State of the Nation

This is going to be the longest general election campaign in history

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

Updated 12.15pm

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Everyone’s talking about…

enda-baby Not long now before Enda Kenny will be holding babies on the campaign trail... Julien Behal / PA Julien Behal / PA / PA

It’s exactly four years since the last general election and the next one is still theoretically over a year away and yet already the parties are positioning themselves for the battle. Fine Gael spent the weekend love-bombing Labour and castigating Fianna Fáil (the crowd that wrecked the country) and Sinn Féin (the crowd that would wreck the country).

This weekend it’s Labour’s turn for its annual conference and if you needed any more evidence that the parties are not necessarily focused on the here and now but the next election you need only look at its theme, ‘Opportunity 2016′.

This morning in the Irish Independent Joan Burton hints at a pre-election pact with Fine Gael. While both parties will fight the election on their own manifestos there’s little doubt they would both prefer to be returned to government together.

In the Dáil this afternoon, Enda Kenny upped his attacks on Micheál Martin, describing him as the “the leader of the party with no health policy” and he said Fianna Fáil “has no plan and wants to do things on a nod and a wink”.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 12.18.14

In the coming weeks Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil will outline their election pitches at their ard fheiseanna. All parties are either in the midst of the process of selecting candidates or about to get under way. While government sources have frequently dismissed efforts to start the campaign just yet (see Fine Gael and Labour’s reluctance to engage in the Vincent Browne constituency debates) there’s no doubt its firmly under way.

The agenda

  • 9.30am: The Health Minister Leo Varadkar takes Dáil questions.
  • 9.30am: The banking inquiry meets with NUIM’s Gregory Connor and later UCD’s Eamon Walsh to discuss banking policy and regulatory systems. Watch it here.
  • 9.30am: Representatives from the energy companies are before the Transport and Communications Committee to discuss the impact of falling crude oil prices on energy costs for consumers.
  • 10.45am: The Children and Family Relationships Bill continues its passage through the Dáil throughout the day.
  • 12pm: Enda Kenny takes his second round of Leaders’ Questions for the week.
  • 2.30pm: The President of the GAA, Liam O’Neill, is before the Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss the role of the association with the diaspora.
  • The Fine Gael and Labour parliamentary parties hold their usual weekly meeting in Leinster House

Inside Leinster House

It’s been a busy few days for Enda Kenny so we’ll forgive him for confusing his former Fine Gael colleague Peter Mathews with Gerry Adams of all people.

via Gavan Reilly

What the others are saying

  • The ECB’s deputy president is prepared to hold “an informal exchange of views” with the banking inquiry, according to the Irish Times
  • A fringe group, called Labour Values, will meet on the, er, fringes of the Labour conference this weekend to discuss the possibility of going it alone after the next election rather than seek another coalition with Fine Gael, the Irish Independent says. 

In case you missed it

On the tweet machine

Stephen Donnelly is finally catching up

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