Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to seek a dissolution of the Dublin parliament from President Michael D Higgins to allow for a 26 County general election on Saturday February 8.
The date of the election was related to his government ministers this morning.
A Saturday vote is an unusual day for an election as it is traditionally believed that some people will be away from home on a Saturday. Mr Varadkar may be hoping for a “feel good” or “green jersey” factor from a major rugby international taking place in Dublin on that date.
It was also reported that thousands of voters are set be excluded from the vote, as updates to the electoral register only take effect from February 15.
Speculation mounted that Mr Varadkar would not wish to go into parliament today to “take several hours of grief” from the opposition, who can now numerically defeat the government, even if Fianna Fáil TDs abstain.
The loss of three TDs in recent times had put the Taoiseach in an impossible position. Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said the Taoiseach had also admitted to him he cannot guarantee even his own TDs will continue to vote for him.
Mr Varadkar reportedly told Mr Martin, whose support has been crucial for his narrow majority, that he wasn’t confident of the support of scandal-hit TD Maria Bailey and other Fine Gael TDs in the event of a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris.
Speculation around a looming election announcement appeared to be confirmed yesterday when Mr Martin and Mr Harris openly exchanged insults about each other’s poor performance on Twitter.
Sinn Féin has been putting the focus on its readiness to enter a coalition with either of the two main right-wing parties following an election.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said yesterday she will talk to and listen to everybody after the next poll “because that’s what adults do”.
She said Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin “do not want Sinn Féin about the place” because “they know full well that we will bring about change”.
“If Sinn Féin can govern in partnership with the DUP – people we have profound political differences with – how on earth is it logical to then say that Sinn Féin isn’t good enough to be in government in the south?”
Ms McDonald said that if Sinn Féin can “land at a space where we have a republican programme for government” then the party will “be in the business of entering government”.