FIANNA Fail has regained its historic position as the most popular political party in the country, as support for the Coalition continues to nosedive.
In a dramatic turnaround since its general election meltdown, the party is up by six points in the latest opinion poll to 26pc. It is now ahead of Fine Gael once more, which is down by six points to 25pc.
And Labour’s woes in the opinion polls continue, with a further two-point drop taking its support to 10pc.
Both parties would face the prospect of huge seat losses if the results were replicated in the next general election.
The ‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll was taken on Monday and Tuesday, two days before the historic Anglo debt deal was agreed with the European Central Bank on Thursday.
Independents are up by six points to 20pc since the last ‘Irish Times’ poll was taken in October.
The poor poll results for Fine Gael and Labour are unlikely to have been due to the Government’s handling of the Magdalene Laundries report, because that was released on Tuesday evening on the final day of polling. The Government has since attracted criticism due to the failure to issue an official apology to the survivors.
Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers will also have to watch out for the rising influence of the Independents, whose 6pc jump is significant.
But Sinn Fein’s rise in the poll has stalled, with its support level dropping by two points to 18pc. And the Green Party is down by one to just 1pc.
There is further grim news for the Government in terms of how voters view its performance.
Despite ministers' claims to be leading the economic recovery, the Government's satisfaction rating has dropped by three points to 18pc.
That is similar to the satisfaction rating for former Taoiseach Brian Cowen's coalition government during the worst of the economic crisis.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is the next most popular leader at 27pc, but he is also down two points.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's satisfaction rating is down by six points to 17pc. This is a reflection of the difficulties being experienced by his Labour Party – which has been hammered by voters for breaking its pre-election promise to prevent Fine Gael from cutting child benefit.
Labour Dublin South Central TD Michael Conaghan said yesterday – before the results of this poll were revealed – that he did not care about retaining his seat as long as the country's economy recovered.
But the results of the opinion poll will alarm those Labour and Fine Gael TDs who do want to keep their jobs.