Fine Gael has escaped the fallout from the cervical cancer scandal with the party's support rising in the latest Sunday Business Post/Red C poll.
The party is now at 34 per cent, which is two points up on last month's Red C poll. The results suggest that the public has laid the blame for the failure to notify at least 162 women about false smear tests for cervical cancer at the door of the HSE rather than Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's government.
However, there is a boost in support for Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who was the most vocal and persistent in calling for the resignation of former HSE chief executive Tony O'Brien over the cervical check scandal. During the taking of the poll, she was also on the Claire Byrne debate on the eighth amendment referendum arguing for a Yes vote. Sinn Féin is up by two points to 16 per cent.
The rise in Sinn Féin support has been at the expense of Independents, who are down significantly by four points to nine per cent. This is despite the strong performance of Independent TDs like Catherine Connolly and Claire Daly on the cervical cancer issue.
But there is little cheer for Fianna Fáil, whose support remains unchanged on 25 per cent. The party is now nine points behind Fine Gael again. Although some backbenchers are still putting pressure on party leader Micheál Martin to call an early general election this year, these results will mean that the party will have to hang on in the hope that its figures pick up after the eighth amendment referendum.
Martin has advocated a Yes vote in contrast to the majority of his parliamentary party, so the stakes are high for him ahead of Friday's referendum vote.
The fact that the Independent Alliance's support level is continuing to rise by two points to 4 per cent, is another boost for government stability. The four remaining ministers have overcome the departure of Sean Canney TD and the continued protests by some rural TDs against Minister for Transport Shane Ross' drink-driving bill. Labour's support level remains on six per cent – which is the same figure it has achieved in eleven of the last 12 Red C polls.
After a series of poor polls, Solidarity-People Before Profit Alliance are up by one point to three per cent. The Green Party are unchanged on two per cent. The Social Democrats are down by one point to one per cent, while Renua is down by one point to zero.
For this poll, RED C interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ by telephone between Thursday May 10 and last Wednesday May 16.
The Sunday Business Post will also be publishing the results of its final Red Ctracking poll on the eighth amendment in tomorrow's newspaper, with detailed analysis and coverage of the intensive canvassing on both sides.