Ireland’s Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, has called a general election for May 24.
The 55-year-old, who became the country’s youngest leader when first elected in 1997, is bidding to win a third consecutive term in office.
President Mary McAleese has dissolved the country’s parliament in preparation for the contest
which had to be held before June.
Unofficial campaigning has been in full swing in recent weeks.
Recent opinion polls suggest that a victory for Ahern and his coalition partner is not a foregone conclusion despite Ireland’s rapid economic growth over the last decade.