Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness is the second favourite candidate among voters to succeed President Mary McAleese in the election to take place later this year, according to the latest opinion poll.
The Louth-based MEP received the backing of 13 per cent of those surveyed by Red C in a poll for Paddy Power bookmakers. Ms McGuinness, who was the only Fine Gael name offered as a choice in the poll, remains far behind the country's favoured choice of Senator David Norris to take the spot in the ras.
The Independent Senator was backed by 27 per cent of voters, more than double the support achieved by Ms McGuinness. However among Fine Gael supporters, the Leinster MEP scored just 1 per cent fewer votes than Mr Norris.
Within spitting distance of Ms McGuinness in third place, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern won the backing of 12 per cent, followed by Labour TD Michael D Higgins on 11 per cent. Fianna Fil MEP for Munster Brian Crowley and Barnardos Chief Executive Fergus Finlay were tied in fourth place on 10 per cent.
The survey was based on a phone poll of 1,000 adults carried out in early January.