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Sinn Fein surge into lead ahead of Saturday's general election

SINN FEIN’S dramatic upsurge in Ireland has continued, with polls putting the left-wing republican party ahead for the first time going into Saturday’s general election, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar faces the boot.

His Fine Gael party – which has its origins in Ireland’s fascist Blueshirts – trails in third place on 20 points, behind the opposition conservative Fianna Fail, standing at 23 per cent.

Sinn Fein is now in first place on 25 points, according to Monday night’s Irish Times poll.

Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled out entering a coalition with the republicans, who entered the election campaigning for a border poll on a united Ireland. Statistics show support for reunification within both loyalist and nationalist communities. A Times of London survey published on Sunday suggested that 80 per cent of residents favour a united Ireland.

A chronic housing shortage and chaos in the health service have also been key issues in the election campaign.

While the strong showing may not translate into seats for Sinn Fein in Saturday’s vote, it will increase pressure for a referendum on a united Ireland as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.

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