In a poll by Ipsos MRBI for the Irish Times, support for left-wing Sinn Fein surged four percent from last month’s survey to 25 percent - just days before this weekend’s national election. Similar polls over recent weeks had suggested the party would finish third with the backing of just a fifth of the electorate. The most recent poll shows support for centre-right Fianna Fail has slipped two percent to 23 percent, while Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party are languishing in third position with 20 percent of the vote.
Sinn Fein has insisted they will not go into a coalition Government unless there is a commitment to an independence vote.
The party has also pledged to push for a vote to be brought forward within the next five years.
The latest poll from Express.co.uk, which ran from 1.40pm until 8.10pm on Tuesday February 4, asked readers: “Are you worried about the break up of the UK as Irish election shock fears grow?”
The poll attracted a massive 14,447 votes, with 70.6 percent (10,197 readers) stating they are worried by such a scenario happening.
Irish election: There are fears a surge from Sinn Fein in a poll could lead to a break up of the UK
Irish election: Mary Lou McDonald's popularity has overtaken Leo Varadkar in a recent poll
Just over a quarter (25.9 percent or 3,743 readers) are not worried by a potential break up of the UK from a Sinn Fein election win, while 3.5 percent (507 readers) selected the “don’t know” option.
While Express.co.uk readers fear a potential break up of the UK following a Sinn Fein victory, they have warned the UK will not rescue Northern Ireland should that eventuality happen - and it negatively impact the country.
One wrote: “If that is what they want then great.
“Just do not bail them out when the next downturn in the economy happens and don’t buy goods from Ireland that can be produced in England.
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“Not being a part of the EU, we should also limit their travel to the UK and who we let in.”
A second reader said: “As long as they don’t come crawling back to us for handouts once they have left us. Good luck to them.”
Another Express.co.uk reader commented: “If the majority want independence or unification, and vote for it, they should have it.
“Just as long as they take their fair share of UK national debt with them, and do not expect to enjoy special rights or privileges such as the CTA from what remains of the UK/England.”
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Irish election: Mary Lou McDonald is leading a resurgent Sinn Fein
Irish election: Leo Varadkar has insisted he will work right until the end to convince people to vote for Fine Gael
One reader even doubted the latest Ipsos MRBI poll prediction and believes Sinn Fein will not even get the majority required to lead a Government.
Sinn Fein are unlikely to emerge as the largest party from Saturday’s general election as it is only running 42 candidates - around half the number of candidates being fielded by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
The party - led by Mary Lou McDonald, has pledged to abolish the Universal Social Charge, a tax imposed to help repay international lending to Ireland following the post-boom collapse of the economy, on the first €30,000 earned. It has also said it would scrap a levy on property if it got into power.
But an Express.co.uk reader wrote: “Sinn Fein won’t get a majority and neither of the other main parties will go into a power sharing agreement so most likely a rainbow government will form and will last about two weeks before collapsing.
Irish election: Sinn Feinn has pledged to abolish the Universal Social Charge
“In terms of the United Ireland question, this may happen but not for many generations.
“There are far too many hurdles like social barriers, political governance, lasting paramilitary elements on both sides and the financial implications of such a large population growth for the Republic over a very small period of time.”
Mr Varadkar started his final week of campaigning by insisting he will work right until the end to convince people to vote for Fine Gael.
He said: “I appreciate what we’re offering is less than what the other parties are offering on this but I’m concerned that what’s happening is an auction and an auction that could result in us auctioning off the pensions of the young.”
Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath claimed Sinn Fein’s tax policies will leave Ireland a “cold place” for businesses.