Fianna Fáil's support surges after its challenge to the vulture funds

Fine Gael remains the most popular party in latest Sunday Business Post/Red C poll

Fianna Fáil has seen its support rise to the highest level in almost two years. Pic:

Fianna Fáil has seen its support rise to the highest level in almost two years after its move to block the sale of distressed mortgages to unregulated vulture funds.

The party is up by three points to 29 per cent in the latest Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll.

The poll was taken at a time when Fianna Fáil gained enormous profile for its opposition to the potential sale of the mortgages of 18,000 Permanent TSB customers to an unregulated vulture fund. The party's finance spokesman Michael McGrath is to have his private bill to regulate the vulture funds debated in the Dáil on Wednesday.

The last time that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin could point to this level of support was back in July 2016 during the early phase of the confidence and supply agreement with the Fine Gael-led minority government.

But Fine Gael under Taoiseach Leo Varadkar retains its position as the best supported party on 32 per cent. The government invested huge effort into promoting the Ireland 2040 plan about providing homes and jobs for an extra one million people. It was launched in Sligo at a ceremony attended by all cabinet ministers.

Sinn Féin TDs had been hoping that the arrival of Mary Lou McDonald as leader would lead to steady incremental increase in its poll ratings. But despite her high profile appearance on the Late Late Show, McDonald has got no leadership bounce at all. Sinn Féin is actually down by one point to 14 per cent.

The one point gain in support for Independents, who are up to 10 per cent, is most likely at the expense of Sinn Féin. But the Independent Alliance is stuck on 3 per cent.

This is a bad poll for smaller parties such as the Social Democrats, who are still on 2 per cent. The Green Party is down by two points to four per cent. And there are no surprises either for Labour, which is flatlining at 6 per cent for most of the past 12 months.

The Solidarity-People Before Profit party has experienced its worst poll result in over two years. It is down by two points to one per cent.

Ahead of the abortion referendum due to take place in May, there has been an increase in support in this poll for the only readily identifiable pro-life party, Renua. it is up by one point to go to 1 per cent.

The poll of 1,000 adults was taken by telephone between Thursday Feb 15 and Thursday Feb 22.

For full analysis of the poll, read tomorrow's Sunday Busines Post.