Poll shows Michael D Higgins with substantial lead ahead of Presidential election

The poll shows the incumbent on 70% support - compared to 14% for second-placed Sean Gallagher

Poll shows Michael D Higgins with substantial lead ahead of Presidential election

Michael D Higgins. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

70% of people are backing Michael D Higgins for re-election as President, according to a new opinion poll.

The Paddy Power / Red C survey of a thousand people was conducted between October 3rd and 10th.

President Higgins is leading on 70% of first preference votes, followed by Seán Gallagher on 14%.

The poll shows Senator Joan Freeman on 6% and businessman Gavin Duffy on 4%.

Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada is also on 5%, while Peter Casey - the third Dragons' Den star in the race - is on 1%.

Support for the incumbent is particularly poplar among young people, the poll suggests - with the results showing a potential first preference vote of 83% in 18-34 year olds group.

More than three-quarters of Fine Gael and Labour supporters back President Higgins for a second term, according to the results, as well as a majority of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin voters.

The poll shows there's 'overwhelming consensus' of 89% that there should be a full and detailed account of the expenditure within the office of the presidency.

Presidential spending

Last month it emerged the office of the President receives an allowance of €317,000, on top of the Presidential salary.

Earlier, President Michael D Higgins insisted no salary of an employee was increased from the discretionary allowance.

Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show this morning, he said: "That's absolutely an untruth - it is completely untrue.

"Every single item has been spent entirely in relation to the function of the presidency."

Meanwhile, Seán Gallagher formally launched his Presidential campaign this morning.

Sean Gallagher officially launches his campaign in Dublin. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

Reacting to the opinion polls so far, Mr Gallagher - who finished second in the 2011 race, after polls gave him an early lead - said unprecedented things can happen in a campaign.

He observed: "A journalist made the comment that something unprecedented would have to happen, potentially, in this election given her views of the poll.

"I said I'm living proof that unprecedented things happen during elections."

He suggested that as the October 26th vote draws nearer, people will begin to engage and consider "what sort of Ireland they want over the next seven years".