Taoiseach announces general election date in tweet
The opening shots have been fired in what will be one of the Republic's shortest ever general election campaigns.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has announced on Twitter that the poll will be held on February 26.
The Taoiseach told the parliament he was seeking its dissolution but only revealed the date of the poll in a video message on the social networking site.
Mr Kenny made the announcement before travelling to President Michael D Higgins' 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 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.
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 hope to return to power, with a key campaign message being stability during economic recovery.
Labour leader and Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Joan Burton said the coalition was a "very united" government that had turned the country around.
"The real test of any government is whether they leave the country in a better place and I will say with the Fine Gael-Labour Government we have definitely done that," she said.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin attacked the Taoiseach for not allowing anyone else to speak in the Dail before its dissolution, saying he had hoped to pay tribute to veteran party colleagues not seeking re-election.
"I thought it was it was a shabby end to a shabby government," he said. "I presumed I would get that opportunity, but people saw the Taoiseach made a speech and ran out of the house - it just didn't look well in terms of the national parliament conducting its business."
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams also criticised the Taoiseach's closing of parliament as a "pathetic end to a pathetic government".