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SINN Fein is now the most popular party in the Republic of Ireland, according to two opinion polls published on Sunday.
Previous polls have indicated that the republicans are also the leading party in the six counties, leading to renewed hope of majority support for a united Ireland on both sides of the border.
The latest Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll found that Sinn Fein leads Fine Gael by 10 per cent. Sinn Fein increased in popularity to 33 per cent – up three points – while the ruling party dropped two points to 23 per cent.
Sinn Fein also finished top in the Business Post/Red C poll for the first time since it was launched in 2003.
Sinn Fein retained its previous projection of 29 per cent of the vote, while Fine Gael fell by two points to 28 per cent.
According to a Belfast Telegraph poll published in May, support for the Democratic Unionist Party has fallen to 13 per cent in the six counties. The same poll gave Sinn Fein 25 per cent of the vote in a future Northern Ireland Assembly election.
Sunday’s polls are the first to be released since Fine Gael became embroiled in a cronyism scandal over its offer to make Katherine Zappone a UN special envoy.
Sinn Fein has tabled a motion of no confidence in Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, saying his conduct fell below the expected standards of public office when he allegedly asked Ms Zappone, the minister for children in the previous Fine Gael-led minority government, to take up the new post.
Leaked text messages indicated that he offered her the job in March, four months before the appointment was discussed by Cabinet, though Mr Coveney has strongly denied that he had made her a definitive offer at that time.
Speaking to public broadcaster RTE One on Sunday, Sinn Fein housing spokesman Eoin O’Broin said: “This is a government who are out of touch, they’re out of control in many respects.
“And because of that we have crises in health, housing, childcare and more, and none of those things are going to get resolved with this type of cronyism.”
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