Early election talk 'nonsense', say Kenny supporters
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is adamant that the Coalition must serve out the full term despite calls from Fine Gael ministers for an early General Election.
Two separate party sources who are strong supporters of Mr Kenny last night predicted that the election will be called for February or March.
The prospect of an early election appears to have increased following another poll bounce enjoyed by the Coalition this weekend.
The Red C poll for the 'Sunday Business Post' shows support for the Coalition has risen five points on the back of the Marriage Equality referendum victory.
Fine Gael remains the most popular party in the State having seen its support increase by three points to 28pc.
And in a major boost for Labour, its support has returned to double figures.
While the party's 10pc popularity is significantly below its General Election support, Labour sources last night said it "gives us a base we can work with".
A Labour minister told the Irish Independent: "This is all about restoring confidence in the party and that can only be done through the members seeing our poll rating rise."
Aside from the poll boost, the Government has dealt with two highly significant policy decisions in recent days, in the form of the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG and the new public sector pay deal.
While the Coalition's workload agenda is not complete, there are very few big ticket items to deal with before ministers feel comfortable to go to the polls.
The decision to spend €566m on restoring pay for public servants is seen as a major bid to buy their support ahead of the election.
But the Government's achievement in sealing the pay deal after just three weeks of negotiations has heightened speculation of an early General Election.
Fine Gael sources last night concurred that there is merit in going to polls before the end of the year and catching the Opposition off guard.
But one minister who is a close supporter of Mr Kenny said that the Taoiseach's "conservative streak" means he will hold out until next year as planned.
"When Kenny says the Coalition will go the full term he means it," the Cabinet member told the Irish Independent last night.
"We are not there yet. Another budget needs to be delivered and that is the last roll of the dice in terms of winning re-election," the source added.
A separate senior Fine Gael figure said Mr Kenny is adamant of fulfilling the full five year term.
"The talk of an early election is nonsense, Kenny has nothing to gain and much to lose by going early," the source said.
As previously reported by this newspaper, Fine Gael is preparing for a February election after Mr Kenny chose late January for the timing of its final party Ard Fheis.
There is however concern within Fine Gael that the publication of the Fennelly Commission could leave Mr Kenny damaged.
The draft report of Mr Nial Fennelly's investigation is due to be circulated to relevant parties imminently.
Mr Fennelly, among other issues, has been examining the events that led to the resignation of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
The Opposition has previously accused Mr Kenny of effectively sacking Mr Callinan by despatching a senior civil servant to his home to convey the Government's concern over the garda tapes controversy.