Sinn Fein is in contention to win three of the Irish
republic's 11 seats in the European Parliament, a poll showed,
ahead of an election which the party says the arrest of leader
Gerry Adams was timed to disrupt.
Northern Ireland police extended the detention of Adams by
another two days on Friday (local time) to give detectives
more time to question him about a 1972 murder, raising the
stakes in a case that has rocked the British province.
Sinn Fein, which shares power in Northern Ireland and has
gained popularity south of the border during the country's
financial crisis, could win as many European Parliament seats
as Prime Minister Enda Kenny's Fine Gael party in the May 23
poll, according to a survey in the Sunday Business Post
The party's candidates lie third in the two four-seat rural
constituencies and its Dublin contender is second, although
Ireland's proportional representation voting system favours
larger parties who run more than one candidate because
running mates can pick up surplus votes from those elected.
Sinn Fein, which is the second largest opposition party in
Dublin's parliament after Fianna Fail, failed to win a seat
in the last European elections five years ago after capturing
its first ever seat in the European parliament in 2004.
It was the second opinion poll in a week which has shown Sinn
Fein are poised to perform well in the elections that will
take place the same day as local polls.
However, the 500 potential voters surveyed in each
constituency were interviewed between Monday and Thursday of
last week, mostly before the arrest of Adams on Wednesday.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, a
Sinn Fein member, reiterated on Saturday that the arrest was
"inextricably linked" to the polls when he addressed hundreds
of supporters who staged a rally by a new mural of Adams
painted in Belfast.
Sinn Fein will also contest European and local elections in
Adams' arrest over the killing of Jean McConville is among
the most significant in Northern Ireland since a 1998 peace
deal ended decades of tit-for-tat killings between Irish
Catholic nationalists and mostly Protestant pro-British
The Sinn Fein leader, who is a member of parliament in the
Irish republic, has been dogged throughout his career by
accusations from former IRA fighters that he was involved in
its campaign of killings, a charge he has repeatedly denied.
When he was arrested, Adams said that he was "innocent of any
part" in the killing, which he said was "wrong and a grievous
injustice to her and her family".