Senator David Norris is leading the race to succeed Mary McAleese as president later this year, according to a new opinion poll.

The independent Senator received the backing of 27% of those surveyed by Red C in a poll for Paddy Power bookmakers.

The poll found Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness in second place, with 13% support, although this is due to the Fianna Fáil and Labour votes each being split by the inclusion of two candidates each.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern received the backing of 12% of those surveyed, while his party colleague MEP Brian Crowley gets 10%.

For Labour, Michael D Higgins has the backing of 11%, while Fergus Finlay has 10% support.

13% said they would not vote for any of the named candidates, while 5% said they would not vote.

The poll was conducted among a sample of 1,000 people nationwide between Tuesday and Thursday of last week.