TANAISTE Joan Burton has said the Labour Party has begun its preparations for the next general election amid growing speculation that voters will be asked to go to the polls in 2015.
Senior figures in all political parties, including Labour, have admitted that they are on guard for the prospect of an early general election.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night told the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting that the election will not be called until 2016.
However one minister last night said an election in the autumn appears to be a "real possibility".
Ms Burton yesterday became the latest political figure to comment on the prospect of a 2015 election, telling this newspaper that her party has begun preparations for such a scenario.
"Since I became leader of the Labour Party, I've been involved in working with the party at all levels," Ms Burton said.
"I have been visiting constituencies right around the country and in the Dublin area. I've been visiting a number of constituencies each month since I became leader in July. So, yes, the Labour Party is getting ready for a general election," she added.
However, the Tanaiste said that she anticipates the Coalition to fulfil its five year term despite growing speculation about a 2015 poll.
Speaking at the launch of a report by the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland, Ms Burton said she is determined to see the country continue to experience a social recovery.
"But what I anticipate with the general election, that this government will see out its term, because together with the employment figures...there is a huge amount of unfinished work to do," she said.
As reported earlier this week, Mr Kenny and the Fine Gael party have stepped up their preparations for the election - which has the potential to be one of the most significant in years. Some staff in Fine Gael began concentrating solely on electoral issues this week.
Fianna Fail figures, meanwhile, are privately discussing the growing prospect of entering coalition with Fine Gael. Some within Fianna Fail have said such a move would prove "suicidal for the party", but others believe a coalition cannot be ruled out based on current opinion polls.