The Republic of Ireland’s general election will be held next spring, premier Enda Kenny has said.
The leader of Fine Gael, the largest party in a coalition government which won a landslide victory in 2011, has been under mounting pressure to set a date amid speculation a poll could have been ordered as early as next month.
But the Taoiseach scotched the rumours and told broadcaster RTE he had been consistently aiming for an election next year.
“My intention is to have the general election in spring 2016, I see no reason to change that.”
Mr Kenny leads the government with the support of minority partner Labour.
Three years after being saved from bankruptcy by a trio of international lenders with a 67.5 billion euro loan, in 2013 Ireland became the first eurozone state to exit its rescue programme under Mr Kenny’s watch.
It followed a massive economic crash and subsequent austerity measures dramatically increased job losses and saw punitive taxes imposed on every household in the country. But a recent study by the Economic Social and Research Institute (ESRI) said average wages are back to what they were in 2007.
The Dublin government is due to deliver its final budget for next year later this month with predictions of extra spending on the cards.
Responding to the RTE interview, the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams TD said: “Mr Kenny should stop the silly game-playing of recent days, resign and call a general election now.
“Sinn Féin is ready for that and confident in our proposals to invest twice as much as the government in public services and the economy and to deliver a fair tax policy that benefits the majority in society.”