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Stand down: Enda won’t be calling the election until tomorrow

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

Updated 10.22am 

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Everyone’s talking about… 

Update: The general election is now unlikely to be called until tomorrow. The Dáil is set to hold a debate on the inquiry into alleged abuse at a south-eastern foster home later today, while the latest exchequer returns will also be published.

Kenny is due to hold a final meeting with the Fine Gael parliamentary party in Leinster House later. Last night, Fine Gael ministers signed off on the party’s manifesto including its long-term economic plan, which will be published in the coming days after the election is called.

Earlier: Yesterday marked exactly five years to the day since Brian Cowen announced the dissolution of the 30th Dáil and called a general election.

Battered and broken by economic catastrophe, the Fianna Fáil led government had lost its Green Party coalition partner and its majority. Cowen presided over a laughing stock of a cabinet where ministers had so many portfolios that party handlers genuinely had trouble figuring out which portfolio was assigned to which minister.

enda now and then Now and then: Enda Kenny upon his election as Taoiseach in 2011 and at the jobs announcement last month Source: RollingNews.ie

This week, Enda Kenny is likely to confirm the date of the general election – widely expected to be Friday, 26 February – having led a government with the largest Dáil majority in the history of the State.

When he does announce it – we’re told Kenny will hold a joint press conference with Tánaiste Joan Burton on the steps of Government Buildings before the party leaders literally and metaphorically head their separate ways for the campaign.

What fate awaits the coalition parties? They have delivered a strong economic recovery, but at what cost? The health service remains in a state of crisis, homelessness is leaving hundreds of children in emergency accommodation, or worse, and there have been several scandals and controversies that have undermined that promise of a ‘democratic revolution’ and Kenny’s pledge that Paddy would always be kept in the know.

The opinion polls currently indicate that the coalition will not be re-elected. Unless this short, three-week campaign alters things quite dramatically, the 32nd Dáil will be fractured and, more than likely, short-lived.

ELECTION 2016 ON THEJOURNAL.IE 

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We’ve loads planned for the election campaign, including a nightly round-up of everything you need to know about what happened on the campaign trail.

The agenda

  • 8.30am: Tánaiste Joan Burton meets with Kenny prior to the cabinet meeting. The date of the election is sure to be discussed. 
  • 10.30am: The current cabinet meets for its usual weekly summit at Government Buildings. It’s likely to be the last although it can technically meet if needed during the election. 
  • Midday: The Public Accounts Committee is due to meet with HSE chief Tony O’Brien and other health officials to discuss the South East foster home scandal, which is now to be subject of a judicial inquiry.
  • 2pm: The Dáil is due to resume with questions to Health Minister Leo Varadkar.
  • 3.15pm: Kenny is due to take Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. 
  • 4.45pm: The Seanad will hear statements on the banking inquiry report. 

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Times is reporting that President Michael D Higgins has taken the unprecedented step of questioning the current government’s focus on tax cuts.
  • The Irish Independent says that PAC chairman John McGuinness has hit back at claims that his committee acted like a “shower of wolves”.
  • The Irish Examiner says that Lucinda Creighton has said that the Taoiseach and Finance Minister attempted to gag her remarks in 2012 about Germany paying part of Ireland’s debt.

In case you missed it

  • Still wondering what all this talk about fiscal space is about? Let us fill you in…
  • Alan Kelly has said that the new bin charges set to be introduced from July will not see people paying for their green bins for the first time.  
  • With the election widely expected to be called today, the political parties are gearing up to get their campaigns underway. 
  • Tanaiste Joan Burton has insisted that she is Alan Kelly’s boss after the Tipperary TD said that in politics “you are your own boss”. 
  • Renua candidate Terence Flanagan has run afoul of strict rules around general election posters, after a sticker altering an election poster into a poster for a public meeting was washed off. 
  • A Wicklow town has declared that telephone poles will be a poster free-zone during the general election. 
  • A new poll has shown that more than three-quarters of people want to see the general election held on a Friday. 
  • A whistleblower at the centre of an abuse scandal at a foster home in the southeast has heavily criticised the management culture of the HSE. 

Good day for…

  • Sinn Féin. The party has been fast out of the blocks with its GE16 social media campaign. 

Click here to view media. 

Bad day for

Alan Kelly. The deputy Labour leader was left red-faced after Joan Burton said “of course” she is his boss.

On the Twitter machine

Donald Trump came second in last night’s Iowa Caucus, the first leg of the Republican nominee race. This tweet is coming back to bite him.

- Additional reporting by Michael Sheils McNamee 

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