Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks Sunday at a press conference at Wynn's Hotel in Dublin

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks Sunday at a press conference at Wynn's Hotel in Dublin.

(Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images/Getty Images)

'People Want Change': Left Wing Sinn Fein Ties for Top Spot in Poll Ahead of Irish Election

The poll marks the first time Sinn Féin has topped ruling party Fine Gael in the Red C survey's history.

The left-wing Irish party Sinn Fein on Sunday tied for the top spot in national polls ahead of elections on February 8 that will determine which political party will lead the country going forward.

"People want change," the party tweeted Sunday. "Sinn Fein can bring that change."

The Business Post/Red C poll results placed Sinn Fein alongside Fianna Fail with each party holding 24% support from the electorate. Ruling party Fine Gael came in third with 21%. All three are within the margin of error.

It's the first time Sinn Fein has been at the top of Red C election polling and the first time it has edged out Fine Gael. Though Sinn Fein has been a major factor in Irish politics for its incompromising stance on reunification with Northern Ireland and its ties to paramilitary Irish liberation group the Irish Republican Army, the party has traditionally struggled to convince voters to allow it to lead the country.

That may be at an end with Sunday's poll. Voters appear ready to end the historical power swapping between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael that has made Ireland effectively have a two-party system of governance for nearly a century since achieving independence from Britain.

"Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have been in power in this state for almost a century," said Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on Sunday. "They've had it all their own way and they've had their chance."

McDonald was in talks with Irish state broadcaster RTE to join Fine Gael leader Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin on Tuesday at a debate. McDonald's exclusion from the event had been criticized even before Sunday's polling.

Sinn Fein's rise in the polls was helped along by its policies and the youth vote.

Donegal Sinn Fein Teachta Dala Pearse Doherty toldRTE Sunday that the party's messge is winning through to voters.

"The polls are reflecting what we're hearing in our communities, that people want real change," said Doherty.

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