14 Jan 2020 | 12.37 pm
General Election Set For February 8
First Saturday Dáil poll
14 Jan 2020 | 12.37 pm
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to meet with President Higgins this afternoon to seek dissolution of the Dáil for a general election vote on Saturday, February 8.
Varadkar (pictured) has already kicked off his campaign, with posters going up in his constituency and an online video highlighting his achievements as Taoiseach.
Polling day clashes with the Ireland v. Wales Six Nations game at the Aviva, while the Dublin-Monaghan national football league is taking place at Croke Park.
In a statement the Taoiseach said: “I have always said that the election should happen at the best time for the country. Now is that time. We have a deal on Brexit that ensures no hard border, citizens’ rights will protected and the Common Travel Area will remain in place. The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive have reconvened. However, Brexit is not done yet. It’s only half-time.
“The next step is to negotiate a free trade agreement between the EU, including Ireland, and the United Kingdom that protects our jobs, our businesses, our rural communities, and our economy. The capacity to do everything else that needs to be done — health, housing, climate action, tax reform — depends on achieving this outcome. And, it has to be done by the end of the year.
“There is a window of opportunity to hold a general election and to have a new government in place before the next European Council meeting in March with a strong mandate to focus on these negotiations into the summer and autumn.
“It has been a privilege to lead this country as your Taoiseach for the last two and half years. Thank you for that honour and your trust in me. Our economy has never been stronger. There are more people at work than ever before, incomes are rising, poverty is falling and the public finances are in back in order.
“We’ve made good progress, but I know it’s not enough. I want us to do much more. Now I seek a fresh mandate so we can continue to build a better future. A future we can all look forward to. We have the team. We have the track record. We have the plans.”
Fine Gael go into the election with 47 seats while Fianna Fail has 45, Sinn Fein 22, Independents 22, Labour 7, Solidarity PBP 6, and the Green Party 3. There are 160 Dáil seats up from grabs in the election, two more than last time.
Paddy Power make Fianna Fail favourite to win most seats at 8/11, with Fine Gael on evens.
The bookies make Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin favourite to be the next Taoiseach (4/6) with Varadkar priced up at 11/10 to retain his job.
In terms of the number of seats for each party, Paddy Power’s opening betting line is Fine Gael 49.5, Fianna Fail 50.5, Sinn Fein 18.5, Labour 9.5, and the Greens 9.5.