The latest opinion poll shows continued support for Fianna Fáil with a drop in backing for Fine Gael.

The latest MRBI/Irish Times poll to be published shows support for Fianna Fail holding up at 45 per cent but a two point drop in Fine Gael ratings over the last two weeks of the general election campaign.

The survey results come as Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan attacked Fianna Fáil's record on ethics in public office. Michael Noonan and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern prepare to face each other in the only television debate of the election tonight.

Speaking earlier, Michael Noonan said that a vote for Fine Gael was a vote to restore good governance for the Irish people.

A vote for Fianna Fáil on Friday... or a vote for any party prepared to go into partnership with Fianna Fáil is a vote for corruption, cronyism and sleaze.

Seamus Brennan of Fianna Fáil described Michael Noonan's comments as a desperate last attempt to win support in the campaign. Labour leader Ruairi Quinn said that the real issue in this election was the standard of public services.

While Michael Noonan's personal popularity is up in the poll, Fine Gael support is down two per cent in the party's share of first preference votes on the last comparable survey two weeks ago.

The details of the poll show Fianna Fáil unchanged at 45 per cent, Fine Gael down two on 21 per cent, Labour unchanged at 12 per cent, Sinn Féin up one point on seven per cent, Progressive Democrats unchanged at two per cent, and the Green Party unchanged at three per cent.

According to the poll, satisfaction with party leaders show Bertie Ahern at 70 per cent up up one, Michael Noonan at 31 per cent up one, Mary Harney at 57 per cent up five, Ruairí Quinn at 45 per cent up three, Trevor Sargeant unchanged at 35 per cent, and Gerry Adams at 51 per cent up three.

The MRBI/Irish Times poll was carried out last Monday using simulated ballot papers in each of the 42 constituencies.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 14 May 2002. The reporter is David Davin Power.