The presidential election will take place on Friday, October 26, it has been confirmed.
Minister of Housing Eoghan Murphy will today sign an election decision that opens the door for candidates who are formally nominated.
As president, Michael D Higgins automatically has the right to get his name on the ballot – but up to 11 others want to challenge him.
They must receive the support of four local authorities or 20 Oireachtas members.
The census will take place on 27 October, with the new president inaugurated on 11 November.
One of the favorites to come to the ticket are businessman Gavin Duffy and Senator Joan Freeman. They started with a tour of County Councils.
Sean Gallagher, who finished in second place in 2011, is also considering another turnaround at the highest office in the country.
Sinn Féin will select a candidate next month.
Among the others seeking support are artist Kevin Sharkey, musician Jimmy Smyth, Marilyn Monroe impersonator Sarah Louise Mulligan, journalist Gemma O & # 39; Doherty, Roscommon farmer John Groarke and former general election candidate Patrick Feeney.
It also turned out today that Fine Gael warned council members not to support any other candidates than Michael D Higgins in the upcoming elections.
In a move that is likely to end badly among some grassroots members, the party chefs wrote last night to local representatives across the country.
The memorandum advised council members of a decision by Fine Gael TDs and senators to support the sitting on Friday 26 October.
"The party is determined to unconditionally support its re-election," said the message, signed by Fine Gael General Secretary Tom Curran.
Two Meath councilors, Maria Murphy and Alan Tobin, have already publicly pledged to guarantee businessman Gavin Duffy a nomination.
And Cllr John McCartin, a Fine Gael council member who sits on Leitrim County Council, has summoned the number two of Sean Gallagher 2011 to take part in the race.
The letter to the councilors states: "On a number of previous occasions the party has pushed aside political partiality and has supported a sitting or an agreed presidential candidate.
"We ask that the Council members consider the position of the Party when considering the issue of presidential nominations and therefore do not propose or support other candidates."
Despite the correspondence, it seems unlikely that Fine Gael would create an internal party by punishing counselors who do not follow the orders of the headquarters.
More to follow …