Fine Gael and Labour only need to gain a few points each to be in with a great chance of winning an historic second term.

The key question is why delay until February or March when things are unlikely to be any better but could be far worse.

Double act: Enda Kenny and Joan Burton outlined their vision for the future funded by the capital plan. Photograph: PA

Seductive Government mood music delivers multibillion euro soundtrack for election

29/09/2015 Taoiseach Enda Kenny TDduring the launch of the Capital Investment Plan at Heuston Station,Dublin.Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Combative Taoiseach rejects allegation and vows ‘I am not placing Ireland back in hock’

The Taoiseach is trying to end speculation that a general election is imminent. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Number of senior Fine Gael figures favour opting for November general election date

Twenty-two per cent of those polled said they would never pay water charges. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fine Gael supporters the most compliant in water charge levy, with 70% of voters paying

Anti-Austerity Alliance TDs Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins at their first national conference at the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin, on Sunday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

In wake of conference, Labour TD says group ‘obsessed with misery’ not recovery

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister to announce move today at conference on clean air

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘Irish Times’ poll shows one-third of voters are less likely to vote for party in election

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Voters have varying ideas on how he should use an extra €1.5 billion he has said will be available in the budget. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘Irish Times’ poll reveals public wants extra funding for services more than tax cuts

Refugees and migrants board a train heading to Serbia near the Macedonian-Greek border on Thursday. Photograph: Getty Images

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll indicates minority believe number of 4,000 is too high

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: In the light of the continuing economic recovery, the main Coalition party might have expected another significant rise in support   although the increase in Labour support will be a consolation. Photograph:

Poll offers Taoiseach mixed messages on whether to call vote in November or spring

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: Fine Gael is now comfortably the largest party with 28 per cent support. Graphic: The Irish Times

The prospect of a November election recedes, latest opinion poll results indicate

Fianna Fáil has tabled a motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny following the publication of the Fennelly report. Photograph: The Irish Times

Heated Dáil exchanges likely over confidence motions as House resumes following recess

Martin Callinan one of a long line of senior gardaí who departed from office in the midst of political controversy. Photograph: PA

Background: Callinan not the first commissioner to leave office amid controversy

 ‘Much will depend on whether opinion polls, public and private, indicate that the two parties between them have a realistic chance of getting close to the 79 seats required to form a government in a November election.’  Above, Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

‘The most successful political leader in independent Ireland, Éamon de Valera, specialised in snap elections, designed to catch hi(...)

Members of the public line up to sign books of condolances for  Thomas Kent at St Michael’s garrison church, Collins Barracks, before a State funeral on Friday 18th September. Photograph: Alan Betson

Relative of constable killed during Thomas Kent’s arrest says policmen ‘were Irish too’

Fine Gael candidate John Perry: he is under pressure because the Fine Gael election strategy committee is recommending one candidate be selected by Sligo delegates and one by Leitrim delegates. Photograph:  James Connolly

Supporters of John Perry excluded from vote after not registering with party for two years

Thomas Kent (left) and William Kent being marched by British soldiers across Fermoy Bridge in May 1916

Taoiseach’s speech at Thomas Kent’s funeral shows desire to control anniversary events

‘Not to be outdone Sinn Féin staged its own elaborate re-enactment of the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa, featuring a large group of supporters wearing the uniforms of the Irish Volunteers and carrying replica guns.’ Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

‘Both governments have been treading softly on issues such as this for fear of upsetting the delicate balance that has kept the po(...)

Alan Shatter spoke on Tuesday of his upset at what he described as the misleading impression created by reports about expenses claims.

Irish Daily Star issues statement defending decision to print article on expenses

Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

TD says media has created ‘untruthful impression’ of spending on photographs

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath:  has done the party a service by raising the issue at this time as it requires considered internal debate in advance of the election. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘While Fianna Fáil may win more seats than Sinn Féin it is highly unlikely to get more than Fine Gael’

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s mother  has died on Friday, August 14th. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Funeral due at 3pm on Monday and afterwards to St Conleth’s Cemetery, Newbridge

Avondale Hosue in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow which hosted the Parnell Summer School. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

Parnell Summer School told history should be ‘a source of wisdom for dealing with the present and planning for the future’

 President Michael D Higgins travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday night to be in Dublin to meet departing Israeli  ambassador Boaz Modai on Wednesday.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

President had not known ambassador asked for farewell meeting before leaving Ireland

A portrait of Isaac Butt  by John Yeats is among the works to be displayed

Portraits of Isaac Butt, John Redmond and John Dillon will commemorate movement

Businessman defends decision to sue CPP

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Taoiseach says chief whip used ‘poetic licence’ when discussing his future last week

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has firmly ruled out remaining on as Fine Gael leader until 2020. Photograph: Getty

Taoiseach clarifies position in wake of recent comments by chief whip Paul Kehoe

Enda Kenny  will be watching the polls closely as his Government heads down the final straight. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe jangled a few nerves when he said there was a 30 per cent chance the election would take place i(...)

Minister Simon Coveney:  ‘You can expect quite a lot of people sank with the vessel which is really horrific to think about.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney says LÉ Niamh may stay due to scale of refugee crisis

Fine Gael leadership: Likely candidates loom into view. Photograph: Getty Images

Claim that Fine Gael leader would serve full second term as taoiseach seen as far-fetched

Renua deputy leader Billy Timmins: queried why RTÉ gave Sinn Féin such publicity for its partisan commemorations. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Renua deputy leader Billy Timmins queries RTÉ coverage

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness  and Minister for Education John O’Dowd. File photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

John O’Dowd accuses paramilitaries of being ‘conflict junkies’ following bomb incident

Inside Russborough House, Blessington, Co Wicklow. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Ex-National Gallery board member says sale of Beit Collection is better than alternative

 European Council President Donald Tusk:  “I am really afraid of this ideological or political contagion, not financial contagion, of this Greek crisis”. Photograph:  EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

Tactical alliance between far right and far left a precursor to Europe’s darkest moments

Pearse Doherty: letter shows Government “blatently misinforming” Eurostat. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Cathaoirleach says attempt to have Eurostat decision debated not warranted

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell said the decision of Eurostat that Irish Water had to remain on the State’s books was a matter of national importance that needed a full public debate. Photograph: Eric Luke

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell called for recall to debate water controversy

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has accused the Government of providing misinformation on the true nature of the Eurostat decision.

SF says Eurostat ‘drives horse and cart’ through claim the €100 grant is independent

Portrait of a bearded man, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), in three-quarter profile, bust-length, with a white collar and gold chainsoil on oak panel, unframed was earmarked for sale.

Humphreys: State doesn't have funds of between €10m and €15m to acquire them

Protesters at an Anti-Water Charges Rally in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Eurostat verdict means big hit for Coalition as election looms, writes Stephen Collins

An Taisce said most of the Beit paintings were only withdrawn from auction following the lodgement of its legal action

Crunch talks on artworks in wake of High Court finding on contentious export licences

Oireachtas banking inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch said it is critical the inquiry survives recent controversies about its operation. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Inquiry to consider legal advice in relation to ex-Anglo chief giving evidence by video link

The for Criminal Assets Bureau investigator says cigarettes have become the new cocaine trade – but without the risk. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Report notes that black-market imports from Asia cost exchequer €250m each year

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.    Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Review to examine whether planning body is positioned to meet future challenges

‘ The failure of Kenny and Burton to accept that they or their parties might have got anything wrong  . . . will do nothing to help the country avoid making a similar mess in the future.’ Above, a screen grab of Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Banking Inquiry

Stephen Collins: Taoiseach and Tánaiste gave the most politically partisan accounts of any of the witnesses to date about the ev(...)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny gives evidence at the Banking Inquiry

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton criticise previous government at banking inquiry

Eamon Ryan said the country needed Green policies like public banking, which removed profit from the lending equation, and instead provides a social dividend to local communities. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Eamon Ryan says country needs Green policies like public banking

The appointment of a raft of new judges by the Government has raised questions regarding the separation of powers, according to Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy. Photograph: Aidan Crawley.

System where those in power choose candidates ‘undermines separation of powers’

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald:  “We have reached a point where Italy and Greece, who are really on the front line, are under unsustainable pressure.” Photograph: Collins

Migrants, mainly from Syria and Eritrea, will arrive from Italian and Greek ‘hot spots’

Before the banking inquiry ...  Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern “accounted for his stewardship   with some aplomb.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Personal jibes at Bertie Ahern distract from the key problem that public spending raced out of control during his time, encourage(...)

Former Lord Mayor of Dublin Alexis Fitzgerald. File  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Popular politican was key figure in party’s renewal in 70s and 80s

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern photographed in his office in 2001. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Despite controversy over personal finances he was one of most popular leaders in history of state

The Taoiseach told the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday night that a lot of work remained to be done before the election. Photograph: Getty Images

Party intends to have selection conventions completed by beginning of October

US troops at Shannon airport. File Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Experts brief Oireachtas committee on use of of Shannon by US forces

Contrasting styles . . . Greece prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Taoiseach Enda Kenny chat during a recent summit. Photograph: EPA/Julien Arnand.

After five tough years Irish economy is growing more strongly than any other in EU

The overall increase of 12 per cent in the cost of healthcare in the Netherlands occurred during a period when the number of insured people increased by only 1.5 per cent. The vast majority (78 per cent) of the increase in costs is accounted for by hospitals. Photograph: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images.

Healthcare cost in Netherlands rose 12% in three years, says departmental report

Irish-US links and the political impasse in Northern Ireland were among the subjects discussed in meetings between the speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Issue of undocumented Irish also covered as US speaker and Taoiseach meet in Dublin

 African migrants become upset  as Italian police attempt to remove them at the Franco-Italian border between Menton and Ventimiglia during June 2015. Photograph: Sebastien Nogier/EPA

Fine Gael TD John Deasy says ‘unwise’ to act without clearer picture of African migration

The final report was brought to Cabinet this morning by Minister for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin but has yet to be approved by Government. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Report says asylum seekers should be allowed work after nine months in system

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny arrives at the EU Council headquarters at the start of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, June 26th. Photograph: Reuters/Eric Vidal

‘Fianna Fáil appears stranded in no man’s land’

Peter Sutherland: said the migration crisis was a problem “which can only be dealt with collectively, not in isolation to one another”.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Agreement reached on voluntary basis, suggesting that some countries may not take part in the process

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at  the Maximos Mansion in Athens for a crucial governmental council meeting  yesterday evening. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Euro finance ministers meet for fifth time in over week in latest bid for agreement

British prime minister David Cameron, speaks to Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels. Photograph: AP

If deal signed-off by finance ministers bailout could be extended, says Taoiseach

 Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and German chancellor Angela Merkel share a light moment during the EU summit in Brussels. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Negotiations between Alexis Tsipras and country’s creditors break down again

TaoiseachEnda Kenny arrives for a European People’s Party (EPP) meeting  in Brussels. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Taoiseach predicts talks at Brussels summit will extend into weekend

Emily Logan, chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission: ‘Repeal of the act would have negative consequences for rights’. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Emily Logan claims proposed repeal of Human Rights Act will damage North accord

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development  Phil Hogan. “Our populations are ageing rapidly and we still need major reforms to ensure pensions and healthcare systems can cope with this societal shift.”  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Agriculture commissioner says European Commission will produce proposals on social policy, following years of economic adjus(...)

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: “It is essential that our road traffic laws are both respected and enforced. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

Figures show many are getting away without points by not bringing licence to court

‘Kevin Cardiff made no bones about the fact that Ireland was pushed into the EU/IMF bailout in November 2010 but he also said he felt grateful that the institutions were prepared to fund Ireland for three years.’ Above, then taoiseach Brian Cowen and minister for finance, Brian Lenihan,   making a statement following the Cabinet meeting  regarding the EU/IMF  bailout in 2010. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

‘When the storm struck Brian Lenihan and Brian Cowen did what was required to stop the country sliding over the edge of the abyss’(...)

The Government has today decided to withdraw 1c and 2c coins from circulation, with prices being rounded up or down as appropriate. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Central Bank welcomes decision and will assume responsibility for changeover

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. Mr Kelly has welcomed the news that the  variable mortgage interest rate for homeowners with loans from local authorities is being cut by 0.2 per cent.   Photograph: Dave Meehan

Homeowners with loans from local authorities will see a decrease in interest rate

More than 1,200 cases of illegal fuel laundering and waste dumping have been dealt with by local authorities South of the Border over the past five years. File photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Senator Paul Coghlan seeks cross-border task force to combat environmental issue

‘Former Labour TD, Róisín Shortall (above), had been talking to left-wing Independent Catherine Murphy, Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly and same-sex marriage campaigner Senator Katherine Zappone.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

‘In the past few days a rival group of Independents TDs and senators have engaged in talks aimed at forming a more ideologically c(...)

The resignation of  Garda commissioner Martin  Callinan (above) in March 2014 caused a political storm. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Parties have 21 days to object to inquiry’s findings on resignation of Garda chief

In Brussels on Wednesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny indicated the Commission of Inquiry into IBRC may extend beyond December. Photograph:  Etienne Laurent/EPA

Dáil backs inquiry terms of reference after row over whether they could cover latest claims

Catherine Murphy speaking about IBRC and Denis O’Brien during Dáil proceedings on Thursday, May 28th, 2015.

Denis O’Brien letters to Ceann Comhairle urged action over Murphy Dáil claims

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty (left) has  claimed that Denis O’Brien had a €315 million loan from IBRC extended in late 2013. This has been disputed by sources with knowledge of the IBRC liquidation.

Sinn Féin TD says businessman agreed extension after IBRC liquidation

Eamon Gilmore has decided to stand down at the next election. ‘He and his colleagues knuckled down played a central role in implementing the policies that underpinned the recovery, kept public services functioning and broadly protected welfare payments.’  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

‘Given that it is six years since pay cuts for public servants were introduced something had to give’

Inside the Dáil chamber. File Photograph: Alan Betson/The  Irish Times

Article 15 of Constitution confers freedom of speech on TDs, Senators

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin demanded to know last night why, after repeated refusals to set up a commission of inquiry, he had changed his mind. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Chances of commission of inquiry reporting by Christmas are remote

 Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. The Government announced last night that the inquiry into IBRC has been upgraded to a Commission of Investigation.   Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Coalition denies Opposition claims of u-turn after upgrading investigation

Catherine Murphy is surrounded by the media after leaving the Four Courts on Tuesday after the High Court clarified that  The Irish Times, RTÉ and other media can report comments by Murphy in the Dáil about businessman Denis O’Brien’s financial affairs. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Scrutiny of IBRC transactions entitled to examine rates charged to large borrowers

Newly elected Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow Kilkenny, Deputy Bobby Aylward (wearing purple tie)  arriving at Leinster House  with Micheál Martin and members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Challenge facing Fianna Fáil is to replicate byelection performance

It is an unprecedented development that the mainstream media have been prevented from publishing privileged remarks in the Dáil due to the threat of legal action. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times.

Nobody in Leinster House can recall a court order prohibiting publication of privileged remarks

Michael McNamara TD: ’I believe the Labour Party has done a good job in government.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Clare deputy was only Coalition member to vote against Aer Lingus stake sale to IAG

According to a document provided to Commission members, Joan Blackbyrne  tripped over exposed wires in TD Thomas Pringle’s office. Photograph: Alan Betson

Joan Blackbyrne’s claim among a number of actions against Oireachtas

Former Government chief whip John Curran has been selected as the Fianna Fáil candidate for Dublin Mid-West in the next general election

Former chief whip holds off Trevor Gilligan and Catriona McClean for nomination

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan: “These are gains worth fighting for and, working with our partners, the Government is determined that the potential represented by the agreement will be realised.” Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Minister briefs Cabinet colleagues on implications of impasse over welfare reform and budgetary matters

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who staged a sit-in in the Dáil chamber last November and was found later by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to have ‘abused parliamentary privilege’. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges to make decision on standing orders

Peter Robinson underwent a procedure for a heart condition on Monday. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Minister says debate must proceed despite Stormont deadlock over welfare reform

At the referendum  count in the RDS,  from left: Labour TDs Alex White,  John Lyons, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Kevin Humphreys. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Former tánaiste Eamon Gilmore first to put issue on agenda

 Dave Power, Mount merrion and Paul Byrne, Swords wait for the official results, in the court yard of Dublin Castle on Saturday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tánaiste says legislation could be passed before summer

Labour will feel it deserves greatest return for pushing referendum onto political agenda

‘Thankfully the true neighbourly feelings that exist between the vast majority of people that live in these islands can be expressed without inhibition now that the slow learners of the political world have come to terms with the reality.’ Above, Prince Charles and   his wife Camilla  are welcomed  to Mullaghmore, Co Sligo. Photograph:  Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA

‘It is 20 years since Prince Charles attended a State banquet in Dublin Castle hosted by the then taoiseach John Bruton but it has(...)

Newly-married couple Anne Fox (nee Cole) and Vincent Fox cast their votes in Dublin in  the referendum on their wedding day. Photograph: Getty

Most people with jobs set to vote in same-sex marriage and presidential referendums between 7pm and 10pm

 Yes Equality leaders joined  fellow Yes campaigners  to call for “one final push” in advance of polling day on the same-sex marriage referendum.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Over 3.2 million people entitled to vote in referendums on same-sex marriage and reducing the age of presidential candidates

Sinn Féin has high hopes  its candidate, Cllr Kathleen Funchion, will poll better than the party did in last year’s local elections in the county. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Win for Fianna Fáil candidate would help silence Micheál Martin’s internal party critics

The Taoiseach said Ireland could make history by voting “yes to inclusion, yes to rights, yes to love and yes to equality, yes to equal marriage”. Photograph: Getty Images

Margin now closing between sides in final stages of campaign, according to Ministers

Peter Sutherland: “I could not continue as  chairman of Goldman Sachs and give the migration question the attention it deserves.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Former EU commissioner is leaving GSI to devote more time to migration issues

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