The latest opinion poll has seen Sinn Féin's support rise once again, to 33 per cent, as their popularity over Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael increases.
The Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks poll, which was published today, saw Mary Lou McDonald's party rise by two points.
Fine Gael is down two points to 23 per cent and Fianna Fáil rose by two to 19 per cent. The Green Party fell by one point to 3 per cent.
Labour is unchanged on 4 per cent, with the Social Democrats now equal on 4 per cent. Solidarity People Before Profit (3 per cent) and Aontú (2 per cent) each fell by one point.
Independents and others command support of 9 per cent.
However, despite Sinn Féin's growing popularity, the poll found respondents preferred the current Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party Government coalition (38 per cent) to a potential Sinn Féin-led government with smaller parties (34 per cent).
Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald is the most popular party leader with a score of 4.1 out of 10, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin's score was 3.9, followed by Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar on 3.8.
The approval rating for chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan is 5.5 out of 10.
In a sign of potential future issues for Sinn Féin in government formation, support for a coalition with Fianna Fáil stood at 10 per cent followed by only 3 per cent for a potential Sinn Féin/Fine Gael government.
In a previous interview with BreakingNews.ie on the issues Sinn Féin may face in government formation, DCU Professor of politics Gary Murphy said: "The trouble then for Sinn Féin is that if they can’t cobble together a Government there, then you’re left with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and I simply cannot see in any way, shape or form how Fianna Fáil will go into a minority Government with Sinn Féin.
"We know that minority parties struggle in Government, it’s a historical fact. The Greens in 2011, the Progressive Democrats over the years, Labour particularly in 2016.
"I just have a hard time seeing any Fianna Fáil leader going into Government with Sinn Féin as a minority party.
"Let’s say they got much the same number of seats, then you could have some Government like the current Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil/Green Government, that might entice Fianna Fáil to go into Government with Sinn Féin, but again I wouldn’t be putting any great money on that."
The poll also found almost a fifth of people in Ireland expect the pandemic to end in the middle of this year.
However, almost half of respondents expect the pandemic to continue into 2023.
Twelve per cent say they reckon the pandemic will end in one year, and another 12 per cent weren't sure.
However, Kevin Cunningham, lecturer in politics at Technological University Dublin (TUD) said Covid is no longer a voter's number one priority.
Prof Cunningham told Newstalk: "So these other issues are emerging, and that is quite interesting in how the Government addresses these issues. Cost of living is this new issue that has kind of popped, it is an issue that hasn't been as prominent in this type of polling and that's quite an interesting aspect."