Voters will go to the polls in Ireland on February 8, as it was announced that Leo Varadkar was seeking dissolution of the Irish parliament today.
The Irish prime minister informed his cabinet the date of Tuesday morning’s elections, The Irish Times and the national RTE broadcaster reported.
He will visit Aras an Uachtarain, the president’s official residence, to ask President Michael D Higgins to dissolve parliament, the president’s office confirmed in a statement.
The dissolution of parliament will formally mark the beginning of the electoral campaign.
Over the weekend, Varadkar told RTE Radio One that he had decided on the timing of an election, but that the protocol prevented him from revealing it.
Speculation was further fueled when images of staff erecting posters of Mr. Varadkar in his constituency emerged.
Health and housing are likely to be the two main problems on which the parties will focus their campaigns.
The state continues to fight against its worst housing crisis, and overcrowding in hospitals reached record levels last year.
The administration led by Varadkar’s fine minority, Fine Gael, had faced a possible defeat in a vote of distrust in Health Minister Simon Harris in the first week of next month.
That perspective will now be avoided; however, concerns have been raised about the timing of the election.
It is possible that thousands of people are not registered to vote, since the last 2020 electoral registry is still in draft form and will not be valid until February 15.
The announcement comes one day after Varadkar’s visit to Belfast to meet with the leaders of the restored power distribution executive of Northern Ireland.
The Taoiseach and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, and Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill in Stormont.
Varadkar confirmed that the “Good Friday Agreement is working again” and that he expected close cooperation between Britain and Ireland as a new relationship is established after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union at the end of the month.
“The exchange of energy here in Northern Ireland, North-South cooperation, will resume, and we will strengthen and deepen cooperation between Great Britain and Ireland in the interest of all who live on these islands,” he said.
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