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FG may reach out to the Independents

THE march of the Independents continues.

Support for local -- and in many cases single-issue -- candidates is on the rise.

And with Independents now accounting for over a third of all nominated candidates, they could account for more than 20 TDs in the next Dail.

Today's Irish Independent /Millward Brown Lansdowne poll revealed support for Independents has increased by one point to 16pc as disillusioned voters turn their backs on the established parties.

Fine Gael, which now almost boasts enough support to form a single-party government, will be watching the rise of the Independents with interest.

Until recently, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition was regarded as a certainty.

But with Fine Gael enjoying a surge in support, leader Enda Kenny could reach out to a number of like-minded Independents -- such as former party colleague Michael Lowry or, if elected, Shane Ross -- to form a majority government if the numbers dictate.

Mr Kenny has also seen his party clash bitterly with Labour over a range of policy issues -- including taxation, public sector reform, health and tackling the national deficit -- and may prefer the simpler option of having to appease a few Independent supporters.

There is a wide variety of Independent candidates running in the election, and this diversity could result in some interesting horse trading in the formation of the next government.

The latest poll reveals one-in-six people who previously voted Fianna Fail will switch their allegiance to an Independent candidate this time around.

Irish Independent