Taoiseach spells it out - the election will be E-A-R-L-Y in spring
A March election is likely after Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted it will be held in the early part of spring.
While the prospect of a November election has already been firmly ruled out, there has been speculation within Government circles that Mr Kenny could hold on until late March or even April before going to the polls.
But when asked about the date of the election at an event in Madrid yesterday, Mr Kenny replied: "Now listen to me, get this very straight. We are going to have an election early in the spring.
"E-A-R-L-Y, early in the spring," he said, specifically spelling out the word.
The remarks significantly raise the prospect of the election being held in February and certainly before St Patrick's Day on March 17.
There is a belief within some political circles that Mr Kenny wants the election result finalised several days before the St Patrick's Day celebrations.
It is tradition for the Taoiseach of the day to travel to the White House to meet the US President.
However, political sources believe the US administration would be opposed to the idea of President Barack Obama meeting Mr Kenny unless he was re-elected as Taoiseach.
Mr Kenny indicated at his own selection convention in Mayo this week that he was leaning towards a short campaign of about three weeks.
He has already pledged to abolish the Universal Social Charge over the lifetime of the next government.