The second part of a TNS/MRBI opinion poll in The Irish Times shows that the current coalition has regained its lead over the Fine Gael/Labour alternative as voters' preferred choice of government.

This is despite another finding of the poll, which shows that voters believe a Fine Gael/Labour government would be better at improving the health services than the current coalition.

36% of voters say they would prefer a FF/PD coalition after the next election, an increase of four points since May.

Fine Gael and Labour, with the possible addition of the Greens, has 31%, a fall of five points.

When asked what will be the top priority in deciding their vote, 56% said it was improvements in public services such as health, followed by continued economic growth at 13%, reduction in crime levels at 12%, and preventing waste in public spending at 9%.

Just 6% say keeping tax down would be the main factor in deciding their vote.

Poll was a referendum on Ahern, says Kenny

The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, has claimed the TNS/MRBI poll published in today's Irish Times had been a referendum on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The poll suggests that 64% of voters believe that Mr Ahern was wrong to accept money while he was Minister for Finance.

Mr Kenny said the poll finding that support for Fine Gael was down two percentage points to 26% was not in keeping with recent polls which showed support for his party increasing.

The Fine Gael leader added he still believed that was the case.

Despite the disapproval of the Taoiseach’s actions, the TNS/MRBI poll today shows that support for Fianna Fáil and satisfaction with the Government has risen.

Fianna Fáil support is up 8% to 39%. Fine Gael is down 2% to 26%, and Labour is down 4% to 11%.

Sinn Féin is down 1% to 8%; The PDs have gained 1% to 4%; the Green Party is also up 1% to 6%. Independents are down to 6%.

46% say they are satisfied with the performance of the Government, an increase of 6%. 47% say they are dissatisfied, a fall of 3%.

This poll puts Fianna Fáil and the PDs 6% ahead of Fine Gael and Labour. However, if the Greens are added to any potential rainbow coalition, the alternatives are exactly even, with 43% support.

The Labour leader Pat Rabbitte described the poll as 'indifferent' for his party.

He described the poll as 'a rogue poll' and said the findings had been generated by the emotion of recent weeks.

Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin said Fianna Fáil was obviously pleased with the poll results.

Mr Martin said he believes the controversy crystalised people's thinking and made them say that they did not want to lose the Government because of the contribution it had made to economic and social development.