General Election to be held on March 11th

The Taoiseach has announced March 11 as election date - he confirmed the date during an address to the Dail this afternoon.

He also assigned Ministries vacated by recent resignations as follows:

Tanaiste and Education Minister Mary Coughlan is to take on responsibility for health and children.

Mr Cowen also reassigned other ministerial posts, with Pat Carey taking on transport, Brendan Smith taking on Justice, Mary Hanafin taking on Enterprise and Employment and Eamon O'Cuiv taking on defence.

The five will also continue in their own ministries.

Opposition leaders accused the Taoiseach of attempting a stroke whereby he would appoint a number of new ministers, but it backfired badly.