Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has announced on Twitter that a general election will be held on February 26.
The Taoiseach informed the parliament he was seeking its dissolution but only revealed the date of the poll in a video message posted on the social networking site.
Mr Kenny made the announcement before travelling to President Michael D Higgins’s official residence, Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin, to formally ask him to dissolve the 31st Dail.
The new Dail, or lower house of parliament, will sit again on March 10 after what will be one of the shortest general election campaigns in Irish political history.
In his video message, Mr Kenny fired the opening salvo of the three-week campaign by stating Ireland was on the verge of collapse and its international reputation was in tatters when he came to power five years ago.
“Five years on we still have many challenges and the job is not yet finished, but working together we have made real progress,” he said.
“Our public finances are back on track, the economy is growing again – faster than any country in the EU – 135,000 more people are back at work, and there is no more bailout, no more troika and no more dead banks.
“Ireland is now clearly moving in the right direction.”
Mr Kenny’s centre-right Fine Gael party and his junior coalition partners Labour are hoping to be returned to power, with a key message of their campaign being stability during the economic recovery.