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It’s a date: Government sets day for Ireland’s next general election

Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny (R), and Irish President Michael Higgins, sign a proclamation formally dissolving parliament at Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the President, in Dublin, Ireland on February 3, 2016. Kenny called parliamentary elections for February 26, in a poll that could see disillusioned voters turn away from established parties to back political mavericks. "I am seeking a dissolution of Dail Eireann (parliament) today with the election to be held on February 26th," Kenny tweeted before going to President Michael Higgins for formal authorisation. / AFP / Caroline Quinn        (Photo credit should read CAROLINE QUINN/AFP/Getty Images)
Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny  and Irish President Michael Higgins, sign a proclamation formally dissolving parliament at Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the President, in Dublin, Ireland on February 3, 2016.
 (CAROLINE QUINN/AFP/Getty Images)

IRELAND’S next general election will take place on Friday, February 26th, officially making the 23 day campaign before polling day one of the shortest in the history of the State.

Enda Kenny made the briefest of announcements to TDs in the Dail on Wednesday morning, stating his intent to make the short journey to Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin’s Pheonix Park, where he would ask President Micheal D. Higgins to formally dissolve the 31st Dail.

Before Fine Gael departed for the Aras, Mr Kenny walked out of Government buildings with the Taniste and Labour leader Joan Burton, telling her: “This is not goodbye”, in a clear message to the electorate that both leaders wish to remain as coalition partners in the next administration.

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As he made his way to the Aras, a video was posted on the Taoiseach’s Twitter account in which Mr Kenny revealed the day of the election and used the opportuning to set out Fine Gael stall, saying the country faced a choice that was “as stark as it is clear”.

He said voters had to decide whether to hand power back to “to those who wrecked our country in the past or those who would wreck it in the future.”

Meanwhile, Joan Burton remained on the steps of Government buildings, taking advantage of the assembled press pack where she set out her party’s pitch.

Ms Burton said the election would be a “contest between hope and optimism” through Labour and Fine Gael’s over a “sterile opposition who want to paint Ireland as a dark, dull and desperate place.”

The Taoiseach broke with tradition by not giving opposition parties a chance to speak before leaving the Dail chamber, angering both Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

The 32nd Dáil will convene again on 10 March, 2016.

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