The Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) states that the Dáil (one of the houses of Parliament) shall not continue for a period longer than 7 years. It also states that legislation can fix a shorter period for the duration of the Dáil. Since 1927, the law states that the maximum period for the duration of the Dáil is 5 years. This means that there must be a general election at least every 5 years. There is no minimum period for the duration of the Dáil.
The President of Ireland has the power to dissolve the Dáil so that a general election must be held. If the Taoiseach has the support of the majority of the members of the Dáil, and he or she advises the President to dissolve the Dáil, the President must do so. If the Taoiseach does not have the support of the majority of the members of the Dáil, the President may refuse to dissolve the Dáil.
The Constitution states that once the President issues a proclamation dissolving the Dáil, a general election must be held within 30 days. After the President issues the proclamation, the Clerk of the Dáil issues a writ to the returning officer in each constituency directing them to hold an election of the prescribed number of members.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government appoints the polling day which must be between the 18th and 25th day (excluding Good Friday, Sundays and public holidays) after the issue of the writ. The Minister also appoints the polling period which must consist of at least 12 hours between 7am and 10.30pm.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.