Election 2016 starts

Taoiseach Enda Kenny gets general election race under way

Rachel Flaherty Wed, Feb 3
LIVE: Election 2016 starts

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  • This event has now ended
  • 09:15
    It is the day we have waited for long, long, long time. We will soon find out what day the general election will be held. Stay with me for all the latest updates through the day as the election race begins.

    You can contact me on twitter @rachelfl or email rflaherty@irishtimes.com
  • 09:25
    Enda Kenny is expected to make an announcement in the Dail shortly. Although it has yet to be confirmed, polling day is widely expected to be Friday, February 26th.
  • 09:28

  • 09:32
    Tanaiste Joan Burton is just taking her seat...it is almost time.
  • 09:33

  • 09:35
    Short and sweet! No GE16 date announcement. Enda Kenny announces the Dail is dissolved and will return on March 10th.
  • 09:40

    Mary Minihan has the latest from the Dail...

    The general election campaign is officially underway following Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s announcement in the Dail is being dissolved.
    Mr Kenny said the new Dail would meet at Thursday, March 10th at 2016.
    “To those members of the house who are not seeking re-election I wish every success and happiness in the future. I wish all other members well in their endeavours to return to the House,” he said.
    Mr Kenny is expected to hit the canvass trail quickly.

  • 09:43

    Not everyone is happy with Enda Kenny's brief announcement and the wait continues for the election date.

    Opposition figures reacted angrily with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin complaining that there was no opportunity to pay tribute to retiring members and Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain pronouncing it "a pathetic end to a pathetic Dail".

  • 09:47

  • 09:49

  • 09:54

    Labour TD Kevin Humphreys says the Taoiseach did the correct thing in his brief announcement.   Mr Humphreys said he has been out campaigning since before Christmas.  

  • 10:01

    Fiach Kelly shares all the latest happenings inside the Dail in our latest Inside Politics brief this morning.

  • 10:02

    We have a date! And how it has been announced is a first...


  • 10:08

    The Taoiseach quoted the poet Raftaire in Irish, when he said “St Brigid’s day is past. The Spring has arrived. I must raise my sail.” (Ta La le Bride caite. Ta an t’Earraigh taghta. Caithfidh me mo sail a ardu.”

    Marie O'Halloran

  • 10:12

    “It's the end of the 31st Dail. Election will take place five years and one day after the last election, February 25 2011.

     Already the battle lines are drawn. The phrase ‘fiscal space’ will be battered to death within a week. It's amazing how consistent messages remain in all general elections... tax reductions, tough on crime, improvements in the health services, better housing... Harry McGee

  • 10:13
    Taoiseach and Tanaiste are outside Government Buildings smiling and shaking hands. Now Joan Burton is left alone on the footpath. Kenny is gone in the car to the Aras.
  • 10:17

  • 10:18

    What did you think of Enda Kenny announcing the election date in a tweet and Facebook?

    Let me know your thoughts on twitter @rachelfl or rflaherty@irishtimes.com

  • 10:25

  • 10:28

    Video of Enda Kenny asking for support.

  • 10:31
    The Taoiseach has arrived at the Aras and is speaking with President Michael D Higgins. A large media presence is waiting patiently for the pair to make an appearance.
  • 10:32
    The doors are opening....no wait, they have been closed again.
  • 10:34

    They're out! The ceremony is about to take place.  


  • 10:35

    The Warrant of Dissolution is being signed. It will bring to an end to 31st Dail


  • 10:36
    It is official. The forms are signed. The 31st Dail is now dissolved. There was a brief handshake between the President and Taoiseach.
  • 10:38

    Photographs of the handshake after the Dail is officially dissolved.

  • 10:47

    "He caught everyone by surprise. It was rude to the House – certainly to the Opposition."

    Marie O’Halloran tells us the reaction to Enda Kenny announcing the election date on Twitter and Facebook:

    But maybe it was clever for the Twitter generation to tweet it? To do it on social media. ‘Look at me. I’m hip too – up there with the young crowd!’

    Think also he wanted to have some element of surprise because it had been well flagged that the election date would be announced today and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern caught everyone by surprise – twice.

    In 2002, he went into the Dail late at night, when few TDs and reporters about and lots of people watching Manchester United match on TV to announce election.

    And in 2007 he went to Aras an Uachtarain very early on a Sunday morning to announce it.

    So the Taoiseach will be adding his element of surprise to surprise announcements.




  • 10:50

    Maybe the Taoiseach's speech was brief as he was thinking of the people with election poster bundles in hand and ready to dart up ladders asap.

  • 10:53

    The President's powers to  dissolve  the Dáil stem from Article 13 of the Consttitution. "Dáil Éireann shall be summoned and dissolved by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach."

    There is a  subsection  that states: "The President may in his absolute discretion refuse to dissolve Dáil Éireann on the advice of a Taoiseach who has ceased to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann."

    One  of the big controversies of  the 1990 presidential election surrounded a claim that Fianna Fáil candidate Brian Lenihan senior had tried to telephone then president Patrick Hillery in 1982 in an effort to get him to  invoke that power, and not dissolve the Dail.  

    Lenihan denied he had tried to do so. But then a tape emerged from an interview he gave to a postgraduate student, which contradicted that.  

    Harry McGee

  • 10:59
    Taoiseach Enda Kenny waves goodbye while outside the Dail this morning. Photograph: PA
    Taoiseach Enda Kenny waves goodbye while outside the Dail this morning. Photograph: PA
  • 11:01

  • 11:07

    Mske sure you are registered to vote.

  • 11:08
    The Taoiseach has returned to Government Buildings.
  • 11:09

    Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin will launch his party’s general election manifesto at 12 noon today.

     The party will also launch a new election billboard.

  • 11:14

    How the Dail ended...

    Mr Kenny, in his last act as Taoiseach of the 31st Dail, arrived at the Aras at 10.26am and signed the visitors book in the hallway before having a private conversation with Mr Higgins in the President's drawing room.

    In a brief ceremony lasting less than two minutes, Mr Kenny and Mr Higgins strode briskly into the State reception room, nodding briefly to a posse of photographers and sat at a mahogany table where the signed the proclamation formally dissolving the Dail.

    Afterwards the acting Taoiseach was escorted to his car by Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina.

    Mr Kenny did not respond to questions from the media as to how he felt. He moved swiftly to his car and was driven away.

    Tim O'Brien

  • 11:19

    The first of many lines of TDs.

  • 11:22
    <p>Taoiseach Enda Kenny says goodbye to President Michael D Higgins at Aras.   Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times</p>

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny says goodbye to President Michael D Higgins at Aras.  Photograph: Alan Betson /The Irish Times

  • 11:25

    Curious about this retraction...

    Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams sent a press release titled “Election is an opportunity for real change” but retracted it minutes later.

  • 11:30

    Don't forget the song... “He’s flat to the mat with his black cap”

  • 11:38

  • 11:49

    People are booking flights to come home to vote #GE16

  • 12:03

    Do you agree the President was right to share his opinion on tax cut promises?

    "Does anyone – not least the one million people who voted for him – really want Michael D to cloister himself away in the Áras like a Trappist monk, tending to the garden while waiting for the Oireachtas to send him Bills to sign?" Ruadhán Mac Cormaic writes.

  • 12:16

  • 12:22

    Joan Burton was left all alone outside Leinster House earlier.

  • 12:26

    Gerry Adams says..

  • 12:29

  • 12:33

    Teacher woes


  • 12:40

    It is official

    Minister for Environment Alan Kelly  has made an order appointing  February 26th,  2016 as polling day and the hours from 7.00am to 10.00 pm.  

  • 12:43

    Do you want to stand for election?

    You have got eight days to make your mind up.  To stand for election to Dáil Éireann, a candidate must be a citizen of Ireland and at least 21 years of age by polling day.

    The latest time for receiving nominations is 12 noon on February 11th. Candidates may withdraw their nominations up to 12 noon on February 12th.

  • 12:48

    Other parties say everything is desperate and dark. I am an optimist, Joan Burton says.

  • 13:00

    And the election has only officially started over an hour ago.  


  • 13:02

  • 13:17

    Another excellent article from Miriam Lord giving us an insight into the mood at Government Buildings last night.

    “Don’t make unnecessary promises,” RTÉ’s Teresa Mannion could shout. “Don’t hammer nails into ESB poles!”

  • 13:25

    Everything you want to know about your constituency in one place.

  • 13:30
    Ah, so she wasn't alone after all. Photograph: PA
    Ah, so she wasn't alone after all. Photograph: PA
  • 13:43

    Queue of students registering to vote at Tralee Garda station.

  • 13:57
    Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said he would not like to think prominent republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy’s tax offences will become a big issue for the party in the general election campaign.
    Mr Adams said he did not see a BBC Spotlight documentary on Tuesday night which explored the recent conviction of Murphy, who Mr Adams subsequently described as a “good republican”, might mean for Sinn Féin in the election.
    Asked at the party’s first press event since the election was announced if he thought Murphy would feature prominently during the campaign, he replied: “I wouldn’t like to think so and I didn’t see the programme”.
    Regarding Murphy, he said: “He isn’t to my knowledge standing in the election.”
  • 14:02
    Minister Alan Kelly is an “obedient employee”. Some interesting comments from Tanaiste Joan Burton here.
  • 14:09
    'Obedient employee' Alan Kelly with 'Labour party boss' Joan Burton. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times
    "Obedient employee" Alan Kelly with "Labour party boss" Joan Burton. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times
  • 14:13

    Felt nervous watching this.

  • 14:36

    Students across the country are keen to vote in this election.

  • 14:45

    There have been some criticisms that the short election notice has made it difficult for many #hometovote to make arrangements to get back in time.


  • 14:47

  • 14:51

    Gallery: Irish Times picture editor Frank Miller choses the best election photographs of the day.

  • 14:55

  • 15:00

    "I’m very happy to participate in all debates,” Enda Kenny tells reporters at FG conference.

  • 15:07

    This might be why...

  • 15:10

  • 15:23

  • 15:36

    This is impressive...

    Students queuing to register to vote are from Tralee IT, GMIT in Galway, NUIG in Galway and Maynooth.

  • 15:41

    Dun Laoghaire Rathdown residents

  • 15:58

    Warning for candidates

    Election candidates who promote themselves using electronic signs similar to those used for traffic alerts have been warned they face enforcement action to have them removed.
    The Department of Environment said it had been made aware that such electronic display panels were being placed in visible locations on, or adjacent to, public roads.
    The signs were being used for “general advertisement purposes and not for traffic management or emergency-related purposes”

  • 16:00

    Lucinda Creighton is not happy

    Renua leader Lucinda Creighton has said “vast sums of money” are being pumped into her Dublin Bay South constituency in an effort to prevent her re-election.
    Speaking at Renua’s first event since the Dáil was dissolved, Ms Creighton said the party was a “political force to be reckoned with” and was targeting 10 seats in the general election on Friday, February 26th.
    “Obviously there are vast sums of money being pumped into my own constituency to try and make sure I don’t win my seat. I take nothing for granted. I never have. I would never be so arrogant as to assume anything.”
    Dublin Bay South, previously known as Dublin South East, is a competitive constituency where Ms Creighton’s former party Fine Gael is fielding Eoghan Murphy and Kate O’Connell..

  • 16:06

    A handy way to find out which candidate suits you most at www.whichcandidate.ie


  • 16:09

    Housing crisis the biggest issue

    The housing crisis and the rising costs of rent will be “single biggest issue” during the general election campaign, the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit group (AAA-PBP) has claimed.
    The AAA and PBP have formed a joint platform for the general election and held a press conference outside Leinster House on Wednesday to mark the start of the campaign.
    Ruth Coppinger and Paul Murphy of the AAA and Richard Boyd Barrett of PBP said the voters faced a real choice in the election.
    “The prospect that we are putting in front of people is that we could have a real alternative in the next Dáil in terms of the Anti Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit,” Ms Coppinger.

  • 16:11
    You're not unusual Gerard, there seems to be quite a few gearing up for a good doorstep debate.
  • 16:14

    Fianna Fail are feeling confident they can win the most seats

    Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said his party is capable of winning the most seats in the general election and providing an alternative government to Fine Gael and Labour.
    Speaking after the launch of Fianna Fáil’s election campaign in central Dublin today, Mr Martin pointed to the party emerging as the largest after the 2014 local elections. He also said Fianna Fáil was more competitive than it had been given credit for in many constituencyies.
    In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Martin said though the local elections were a different type of election, the party had out-performed the polls. He argued that it could repeat the performance on February 26th - polling day.
    Asked what the party would do if that were to happen, Mr Martin would not go into specifics.
    “We will go into government, again deciding on whom the people decide to give the maximum number of votes to,” he said.

  • 16:27

  • 16:30

    Where are the female candidates today?

  • 16:34

    A full list of Green party candidates

  • 16:43

    Michael Noonan insists figures for Fine Gael plans do add up

    Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has defended Fine Gael’s economic plan insisting the figures do add up.
    Mr Noonan has come under scrutiny for his claim the fiscal space – the resources for tax cuts and spending increases over the next five years – is worth €12 billion.
    However the Department of Finance’s figures show the “net fiscal space” is €8.6 billion between 2017-2021.
    The Minister said the money available is down to the policies Fine Gael and Labour committed to and “chapter and verse” of the plan will be unveiled tomorrow.
    Mr Noonan said: “The problem with the Opposition’s position is they opposed everything we did when we were putting these policies in place.
    “They voted against them all of the time. Now they are very brave and they are going to spend the money these policies have generated and they are committed to changing the policies.
    “When they change the policies they will not get the resources . . . the Sinn Féin formula will destroy the economy.

  • 16:46

  • 16:47

    Have a listen to all the latest updates from today.

  • 16:52

    It's all about the election posters. Will they inspire voters or drive them crazy?

  • 16:55

    Artist Brian McCarthy's take on the election.