FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said Sinn Féin has “no realistic chance of being in government” despite the party’s strong performance in opinion polls this weekend.
Mr Martin made the remark as the campaign enters its final week, adding that he is confident that his party will outperform the latest opinion poll.
The Sunday Business Post/Red C survey indicated that support for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin is neck and neck at 24% each.
It leaves Fine Gael flagging in third place on 21%, down two points.
Mr Martin believes Sinn Féin has “no realistic chance of being in government” because of the number of candidates it is running.
He is confident that Fianna Fáil will “outperform” the poll.
“We are in a strong position,” he said.
“We believe, given the numbers we are running up for candidates, that we are the only party with any realistic opportunity of leading an alternative government and giving the people what they want, which is a change of government.”
He expects further polls and “different shifts” in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin candidate in Cork North Central Thomas Gould said he has noticed a palpable shift in political attitudes with more elderly and professional voters showing support for Sinn Féin than ever before.
“Polls are polls and elections are different,” he said.
“Next Saturday is the only poll that will really matter. What we’re getting on the door is that there’s an appetite for change.
“There are people who would never have given us a vote before are now saying they would consider it. Families are looking for a break.
“They are being told that the country has recovered economically but they haven’t felt it.
“We’re starting to get a better response from professional people and the middle class who would have traditionally voted Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.”