FIANNA FAIL has opened up a 12-point lead on Fine Gael in the latest opinion poll.
The new poll, published in the Sunday Times, has Fianna Fáil on 32%, up five, while Fine Gael has dropped seven points to 20%.
It marks a major shift on the previous Sunday Times/Behaviour and Attitudes opinion poll from a month ago that had Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil level on 27%.
Elsewhere, Sinn Féin is now only one point behind Fine Gael on 19% in the new poll.
The Greens have also gained a point to sit on 7% while Labour are languishing down on 4% having gone down two.
Solidarity/People Before Profit dropped one to 2% in the poll, while Renua are up one to 1% and the Social Democrats sit unchanged on 1%.
A total of 923 people from January 2 through to the 14 were quizzed over their voting preferences.
The publication of the poll comes on the same weekend Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader Leo Varadkar was forced to defend the government’s record on violent crime.
Varadkar’s record has been the subject of renewed focus following several high-profile murders in Ireland, including the killing and dismemberment of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods.
In Cork, student Cameron Blair was stabbed at a house party while there were reports of men being injured in shooting reported in Dublin and County Clare in recent days.
Varadkar said: “Ireland is a country that is safe. Ireland is a country that thankfully relative to other countries has a relatively low crime rate and a relatively low murder rate.
“That doesn’t detract in any way from the seriousness of the crimes that we have witnessed in the last number of days, which are unspeakable and are appalling.
“Our responsibility as a government is working with the gardaí and others to bring those people who have committed those crimes to justice.
“That’s why we put record resources into the gardaí, that’s why we reopened Templemore [police training college] which was closed by Fianna Fáil.
“It’s why we’ve put such investment into the gardaí and resources in recent years and why we focused on reducing poverty, reducing disadvantage. And poverty is now down five years in a row.”