Prime Minister Brian Cowen

Read: Brian Cowen to dissolve Parliament paving way for General Election

A date for Ireland’s General Election has finally been named. It will be  Friday, February 25th, after the official dissolution of the 30th Parliament of Ireland today.

The new parliament will meet to elect a new prime minister on March 9th. This date was confirmed following  Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Brian Cowen’s announcement that the Irish parliament had been dissolved.

He then visited the Irish President Mary McAleese to confirm the government’s dissolution and a date for the upcoming General Election.

Fine Gael, the main opposition party is well ahead in the most recent polls. Their leader Enda Kenny is the hot favorite to be elected Prime Minister when the parliament meets again on March 9th and a coalition government with the Labour Party seems on the cards.

Current main government party Fianna Fail may receive an historic setback if the polls are to be believed. They are at 16 percent, a far cry from the 44 percent they received in the last election.

Earlier this afternoon after announcing officially that the Irish Parliament was being dissolved the outgoing prime minister Brian Cowen defended his past mistakes.

He said that during his leadership and political life he always had the good of the people in him mind, during every decision he had made.

He said “But I do want to simply say that while the past two and a half years since I was elected Taoiseach have been a time of great trial and test, I believe we have worked hard to correct past failures and to secure the future recovery of our country," he said.

"I know some of the decisions my government had to take were not popular. But they had to be taken."

Cowen asked the people to remember his motivation in making political decisions. He said “I believe politics is about serving the interests of the people first and last…That was my motivation starting out in public life and I stayed true to it right to the end.

"In every decision I took, as Taoiseach, I can honestly say the common good was my overriding concern, and loyalty to this country and its people informed every choice I made."

A total of 166 deputies will now be elected with the new government needing at least 84 seats to govern.

Read: Brian Cowen to dissolve Parliament paving way for General Election