Poll shows Labour in a desperate battle to defend party's Cork seats
An opinion poll in a key marginal constituency shows Labour facing a desperate battle to defend previously safe seats from the onslaught of left-wing parties and independents.
The Cork poll, conducted among 398 respondents in August, also revealed strong support for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
Labour polled 8.8pc, roughly one-third the support levels for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
The governing party polled half the support levels of the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA), the main perceived threat to Labour nationwide.
The poll was commissioned by the AAA in Cork North Central.
However, Fine Gael has said predictions of a shift to far-left parties in the election will prove wide of the mark, thanks to a vote-transfer pact with Labour.
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy has insisted that Labour will benefit from Fine Gael transfers.
Nevertheless, the poll indicates that Labour will be fighting hard to defend its four seats across the five Cork constituencies - a trend that is likely to be mirrored nationally.
Cork City councillor Mick Finn has confirmed that he will now contest a seat in Cork South Central as an independent.
In Cork East, Research Minister Seán Sherlock has been boosted by a local split within Sinn Féin but could now face a possible challenge from independents
The poll indicated that Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are likely to hold seats, with Labour struggling.
Fianna Fáil (24.1pc) and Sinn Féin (23.1pc) are in positions to take seats on the first count.
Fine Gael (14.1pc) is also likely to easily hold its sole Cork North Central seat, given its one-candidate strategy. Labour's support was at just 8.8pc.
That contrasts to 17.8pc for the Socialist Party/AAA, 5.8pc for the Workers Party and 4.3pc for former Fianna Fáil TD Noel O'Flynn, who has confirmed that he is running.
Councillor Mick Barry (SP/AAA), a key figure in the anti-water charges protest campaign, is now a serious contender for the fourth seat.