The latest political opinion poll indicates that Fine Gael are making significant gains at the expense of Fianna Fáil.

The TNS/mrbi poll in The Irish Times suggests that Fine Gael are just 3% behind Fianna Fáil, and in a strong position to form a new government.

These figures have been adjusted by the polling company, TNS/mrbi, to take account of the fact that opinion polls usually put Fianna Fáil too high, and Fine Gael too low, in comparison to their actual election vote.

But even if the adjustment has gone too far, the trend is unmistakeably toward Fine Gael and away from Fianna Fáil.

The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, said this morning's poll showed that clearly there was a trend among the electorate for change.

However, he said the only poll he is interested in is the decision of the electorate on polling day but he agreed the results of the poll were very encouraging.

In relation to a coalition with the Greens, he said he respected that party's mandate to stay separate but that he would prefer a coalition with the Greens over the Progressive Democrats because they share Fine Gael's aspiration to get the Government out of office.

The adjusted figures show Fianna Fáil at just 34% support, down three points since the last comparable poll in January.

Fine Gael support, meanwhile, has climbed an astonishing five points to 31%, while coalition partners Labour are down one point to 10%.

Sinn Féin will be pleased to have drawn level with Labour, as they are up one point to 10%.

The PDs are up two to 3%, and the Greens down two to 6%.

Independents and others are down two to 6% support.

Following on from two polls at the weekend, which also suggested Fine Gael gaining at the expense of Fianna Fáil, these figures will give Taoiseach Bertie Ahern a fresh headache as he ponders the timing of the General Election.