Taoiseach Enda Kenny announces Irish election date

media captionEnda Kenny announced in the Dáil that he was seeking a dissolution of parliament, paving the way for an election

A general election in the Republic of Ireland is to take place on 26 February.

Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny has asked Irish President Michael D Higgins to dissolve the parliament (Dáil)

Mr Kenny said that the Dáil will meet again on 10 March.

The 32nd Dáil will have 158 seats, eight fewer than the previous one, and the number of constituencies has been reduced to 40 from 43.

Mr Kenny has been in office for almost five years, leading a Fine Gael/Labour coalition government since March 2011.

He is aiming to become the first leader of the Fine Gael party to be returned as prime minister.

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