Sinn Fein has topped an opinion poll in the 26 Counties for the first time in the history of polling in the state, gaining four points to move up to 26%.
The Millward Brown survey for tomorrow’s Sunday Independent questioned 1,000 people over the past 10 days.
It shows Independents also making gains, they increased their support by two points to stand at 23%.
Support for both government parties is down significantly, with Fine Gael dropping three points to 22% and Labour down two from 9% to 7%. Fianna Fail has also seen a drop in support, down one to 20%.
The poll showed a major move up for Sinn Fein, despite an intensive and orchestrated campaign in the establishment media to damage the party.
The news also came as over 200,000 people demonstrated on streets up and down the country in protest against water charges. Even the smaller towns across Ireland saw people march in their thousands, while cities numbered in tens of thousands.
About 30,000 braved incessant rain in Cork city. The march took almost an hour and a half to make its way through Cork city centre. Amongst the politicians protesting was Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien, who said: “The government needs to recognise the numbers on the streets. People are not going to pay, it is a tax too far.”
The organisers of the more than 100 protests expressed delight at the massive turnout amid terrible weather.
The Right2Water campaign said: “Today showed the strength of public opposition to water charges in communities up and down the country. The time has come for the Government to accept the will of the people, abolish domestic water charges and return to the drawing board. Until they do, the Right2Water campaign will keep up the pressure.”
The group said details of a major rally outside the Dublin parliament on December 10 - International Human Rights Day - will be announced in the coming days.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams was at the rally in Dundalk today, and he said: “Today’s Right2Water day of action was a huge success, with positive, family-friendly demonstrations right across the state.
“It is clear that the Fine Gael/Labour Government has totally underestimated the level of public anger at the imposition of domestic water charges and the determination that now exists to defeat them.
“The establishment of Irish Water and the imposition of domestic water charges has been a fiasco from the start.
“Citizens have had enough of relentless austerity, new taxes and charges.They have said loudly and clearly that they will not accept the Water Tax.
“This government must listen to the people and end its imposition of water charges.”