Almost half of voters favour Sinn Fein in government
ALMOST half of voters are now in favour of Sinn Fein being part of a coalition government here.
The startling statistic in the Millward Brown IMS poll for the Irish Independent could have a dramatic effect on the formation of the next government if, as widely expected, there is a 'hung' Dail after Thursday's general election.
It will give the main political parties - particularly Fianna Fail - much food for thought as they ponder their options in the aftermath of the election results. For Fianna Fail, like Fine Gael, have ruled out any coalition with Sinn Fein in the post-election scenario.
Sinn Fein are down 1pc to 9pc in today's poll but they are still on course to boost their seat total from its current level of five and could even double their total.
That would put the party centre stage in any negotiations which might take place after the election, despite the refusal of the main parties to have any truck with them.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is on record as saying that he will bring Fianna Fail into opposition rather than coalesce with Sinn Fein. The poll shows that 48pc of voters are in favour of Sinn Fein being part of a coalition government here, now that the party is sharing power in Northern Ireland.
Today's poll shows 40pc of people against Sinn Fein being in power here while 13pc don't know or have no opinion. Of those in favour of having Sinn Fein in government, 55pc are males aged 18 to 34, with support, not surprisingly, being highest among Sinn Fein voters - 93pc.
But 52pc of Labour voters would also support such a move.
Opposition to Sinn Fein's presence in government was highest among Fine Gael supporters - with 53pc of its voters against it.
Age was also a factor, with 54pc of those aged 65 and above (54pc) in opposition to Sinn Fein taking power here. Those aged 50 to 64 came next in line.