Northern Ireland

Michelle O’Neill now the most popular leader in Ireland

Stormont First Minister ahead of Mary Lou McDonald in latest poll

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill with party president Mary Lou McDonald in the office of the first minister at Stormont
Stormont Assembly Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill with party president Mary Lou McDonald (Liam McBurney/Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Sinn Féin First Minister Michelle O’Neill has emerged as the most popular party leader in Ireland, a new poll shows.

The party’s vice president made history last month when she became the first nationalist to be selected as First Minister.

A Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks poll now shows that Ms O’Neill is more popular than any other party leader in Ireland, including Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald.

The revelation comes as her party slumped to its lowest level of support in the series of polls since April 2021 and is currently at 27 percent, which represents a drop of two points since last month.

While there may be concern in the south about Sinn Féin’s sliding popularity, members in the north will be happy with Ms O’Neill’s showing.

She currently enjoys an approval rating of 55%, 16 points ahead of Ms McDonald, whose rating has fallen back to 39%

Ms O’Neill is also well ahead of Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who is on 47%, and Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, who currently has a 41%approval rating.

Her strong showing comes after she made an appearance on the popular Late Late Show last month and days after she attended Windsor Park for a women’s soccer international, where she stood for God Save the King.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael popularity is up one point to 20% while Fianna Fáil is also up a single point to 18%