Support for Independents and smaller parties has fallen significantly at the start of the new year, ending a period of steadily rising ratings over recent months, according to a new poll.
The Millward Brown opinion poll in today's Sunday Independent shows Sinn Féin is now the most popular political grouping in Ireland on 26 per cent (a gain of 5 points), followed by Fine Gael (25 per cent, up 3) Independents and others (24 per cent, down 9 points) and Fianna Fáil (19 per cent, up 1).
The results demonstrate a pronounced drop in support for Independents and smaller parties which have suffered a decline of 9 percentage points since the results of a similar poll in December.
The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3 per cent.
Over the same period Sinn Féin's ratings have risen, while the Coalition parties Fine Gael and Labour have also experienced moderate improvements.
The survey involved over 1,000 people, who were questioned on topics ranging from same-sex marriage, water charges and abortion over a two-week period in late January and early February.
Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Fianna Fáil's Micheal Martin had the highest approval ratings for party leaders with both on 29 per cent.