FINE Gael has suffered a delayed post-Budget backlash with its support dropping to its lowest level since it came into power.
The party’s rating has fallen by four points to 25pc in the latest Paddy Power/Red C opinion poll. It has been at the centre of controversy over the payment of next year’s property tax, while Environment Minister Phil Hogan has also been on the backfoot over continuing water shortages in Dublin.
It marks a setback for Fine Gael, which had previously appeared to have survived the Budget unscathed. It had an unchanged rating in the last Red C opinion poll two weeks ago but its 25pc rating in the latest poll is the lowest since it came into Government in March 2011.
The big winners in the latest poll have been Independents, who have gone up by four points to 26pc. Labour remains on 9pc, but support for Fianna Fail has risen to 24pc, just 1pc behind Fine Gael. And Sinn Fein has seen its support drop by 1pc to 16pc. Its leader Gerry Adams has come under further pressure due to an RTE/BBC documentary about the people secretly murdered and buried by the IRA. His support rating among voters has dropped from 26pc to 24pc since Red C last polled on party leaders in June. But all other party leaders have also seen their support rating fall too. Taoiseach Enda Kenny is down from 41pc to 36pc, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin is down from 36pc to 35pc and the least popular leader among the main parties is still Labour's Eamon Gilmore. His rating dropped from 23pc to 18pc.
The poll shows there is widespread support for the introduction of gay marriage – after Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced this week that he would personally be supporting it in a referendum in 2015. Around 76pc of likely voters say they would support gay marriage, with 18pc opposed, and 6pc undecided.