Backing for Fine Gael, the group led by the country’s prime minister, or Taoiseach, has fallen behind its main rival as voters ready themselves for the February 8 ballot. A survey for the Irish Times and Ipsos MRBI showed Irish adults are leaning away from the governing party, with Fianna Fail taking a slight lead. This marks the first time in three years that the party led my Micheal Martin has come in ahead of Mr Varadkar’s group.

Fine Gael saw its support drop by six percentage points to 23 percent, behind Fianna Fail’s 25 percent.

Nationalist party Sinn Fein enjoyed a boost of seven percent, with 21 percent of respondents saying they intend to vote for the group led by Mary Lou McDonald.

The Green Party finished with eight percent, while the Labour Party was put on five percent.

A total of 1,200 voters were surveyed at 120 locations in every constituency.

But just 35 percent of those surveyed last week said the same.

The damning results will serve as a wake-up call to anti-Brexit Mr Varadkar.

On Monday a poll by PR360’s “2020 Leader” series showed the majority of Irish people would rather be led by Mr Martin than Mr Varadkar.

A total of 55 percent backed the Fianna Fail frontman while 45 percent said Mr Varadkar was the better man for the job.

The survey was carried out by Amarach Research and consisted of only two choices as answers.

On Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said he would have no difficulty debating Ms McDonald in the main TV election debate.

His comments came after Opposition leader Mr Martin said the debate should be limited to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

Ms McDonald criticised the broadcasters for limiting the debates to head-to-heads between Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar.

Mr Varadkar told reporters in Fermoy, Co Cork, on Tuesday: “It is actually up to the broadcasters and I understand there may be a court action about it now so I’d prefer not to say more.

“I don’t have a difficulty debating Micheal Martin head to head and I think it is right that we should do that but equally I would have no difficulty doing a debate involving the three leaders of the three major parties.”



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