Kenny to get Labour to agree election day as Kelly 'puffs chest'
Published 29/01/2016 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is planning to get Cabinet agreement on the date of the General Election - to limit Environment Minister Alan Kelly's role.
Mr Kenny is expected to advise the President to dissolve the Dáil between Tuesday and Thursday next week, to allow the election to be held at the end of February.
The precise day of the election and whether it is on a Thursday or a Friday is still up in the air.
Fine Gael strategists prefer Thursday, February 25.
But Mr Kenny is still looking towards Friday, February 26, to allow young people to travel home to vote.
"Enda has a west of Ireland thing about people going home for the weekend," a senior party source said.
At the moment, the chance of the election being held on a Thursday is regarded as 80pc certain.
Fine Gael sources also warn Mr Kenny won't want to feel he is being boxed in and would easily decide to move the election into March, just to reassert the point that it is his decision alone.
But the party is planning to launch its campaign towards the end of this week.
Given his respect for the Dáil, he is expected to formally dissolve the parliament in the chamber in Leinster House.
Mr Kenny will also hold a joint press conference with Tánaiste Joan Burton in Government Buildings, to point out the Coalition has lasted the full five-year term and appeal for it to be returned to power.
Then both parties will go their separate ways.
Officially, the Environment Minister actually sets the date of the election as he moves the writ - the order which sets the date. Mr Kelly, the Labour Party deputy leader, has been busily pointing out that he holds this power.
The inherent suggestion is Mr Kelly would decide the date himself - not Mr Kenny.
As a result, the Taoiseach is now considering getting the Cabinet to agree the election date. The plan involves calling a special Cabinet meeting just before Mr Kenny dissolves the Dáil. The meeting would then endorse the Taoiseach's selection of a date and pass it to Mr Kelly to move the writ as a formality.
"The moving of the writ has Kelly puffing his chest out at the moment. It is up to him to move the writ, but a Cabinet decision solves that. If the Government decides as a whole, the margin of doubt is removed," said the source.
Meanwhile, a poll in Galway West-Mayo South shows Labour fighting for its seat and Fine Gael in trouble.
Sinn Féin's Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is on the brink of becoming the first TD elected for the party in Galway, the 'Galway Advertiser' poll shows.
Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Ó Cuiv will comfortably top the poll. Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne will also be elected, as will Independent TD Noel Grealish.
Labour's Derek Nolan, who is regarded as being in deep danger of losing his seat, is in contention to hold his seat.
But the poll shows him up against Independent Left city councillor Catherine Connolly and two Fine Gael candidates.
Sitting TD Brian Walsh is retiring on health grounds. The party's Mayo TD John O'Mahony is moving to Galway West due to a redraw.
But Mr O'Mahony and running mate, Senator Hildegarde Naughten, will need to transfer heavily between them to win.