The Fine Gael and Labour leaders denied they are trying to catch the opposition off-guard in messages to their parties’ weekly private meetings after 48 hours of increasing rumours the country is weeks away from going to the polls.
A number of TDs said last night that Mr Kenny opened the latest Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting by dismissing the claims head-on and insisting the speculation has no basis in fact.
They said Mr Kenny insisted “whoever’s doing this [speculating] must stop” as the Government still has “10% of our term to run”.
However, one TD said given the reality many representatives are facing tight election contests, the request is “like asking a bunch of teenagers not to talk about sex”.
At a separate meeting at the same time, Tánaiste Joan Burton also ruled out an early election.
After confirming that Labour’s national conference will be held on January 30 in Mullingar, Co Westmeath — a week after Fine Gael’s planned ard fheis at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin — Ms Burton joked with TDs: “You can go to Paddy Power and put your bets down now.”
Her comments came after Mr Kenny dismissed suggestions from broadcaster and ex-Fine Gael minister Ivan Yates on Tuesday that the election will be held on November 20 by saying he would put a bet on with him.
While both Government parties’ leaders continue to insist the election will be held early next year, snap election speculation has continued.
Earlier this week, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan told Fine Gael colleagues in Brussels to prepare for a November vote.
While a number of Fine Gael ministers — including Health Minister Leo Varadkar, junior finance minister Simon Harris, and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton — yesterday repeated the mantra the Government will run its full course, it is privately accepted Fine Gael TDs are largely in favour of a snap election while Labour wants to go the full term.