According to Stephen Collins in the Irish Times:
The Labour Party has passed out Fianna Fáil for the first time since polling began, according to the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll, which reveals that support for the main Government party has almost halved since the last election.
Fianna Fáil has now slumped into third place behind Fine Gael and the Labour Party in the wake of its plan to make savings of €2 billion this year, through a public service pensions levy and a range of cost-cutting measures.
The poll also shows that a substantial majority of voters would now like to see a change of Government with 62 per cent favouring a change and 28 per cent opposed to it.
The Government’s satisfaction rating has dropped to 14 per cent with 82 per cent now expressing dissatisfaction with its performance. This is a record low since polling began, with supporters of all parties, including Fianna Fail and Green voters, now strongly dissatisfied with the coalition’s performance.
The adjusted figures for party support, compared with the last Irish Times poll in November are: Fianna Fáil, 22 per cent (down 5 points); Fine Gael, 32 per cent (down 2 points); Labour, 24 per cent (up 10 point); Sinn Féin, 8 per cent (up 1 point); Green Party, 4 per cent (no change); and Independents/others, 9 per cent (down 4 points).
The poll was conducted last Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies before the political controversy about the Government’s plan to recapitalise the banks and the latest developments in Anglo Irish Bank. The margin of error is 3 per cent.
The news harks back to the Spring Tide of the early 1990s when Labour captured 33 Dáil seats and hoped to position themselves to become the Republic's second party. In the event, they failed to maintain the momentum as the decade progressed.
Regardless of one's position on southern politics, it's hard to deny that Labour has played somewhat of a blinder as the southern economy has unravelled. Yesterday I was following developments on Twitter as Labour tweeted live as two of their TDs were suspended from the Dáil- it was fascinating stuff.
However, as with the Tories' lead in the UK, which I blogged about earlier in the week, maintaining poll leads through general elections is an entirely different matter.
The fact that Labour is practically non-existent on the ground in large parts of the state would present problems in maintaining the strength of this latest poll showing. Nonetheless, Eamon Gilmore and his followers will be delighted at these figures.