Conor McMorrow of RTÉ's Political Staff gives his take on some of the key issues ahead of the looming election.

Body Politic Language

The stakes couldn't have been any higher with the first RTÉ debate being the only forum featuring all seven party leaders. So who, if any, had the upper hand when it came to connecting with voters

Fiscal Friction

Michael Noonan set out Fine Gael’s plans for abolishing USC by 2020 and challenged anyone who claimed his fiscal space figures are incorrect to come out and "prove it".

Labour Pains

After winning 37 seats five years ago, all forecasts and predictions point to numerous Labour seat losses in Election 2016.

Is there is a point when a depleted Labour Party should reconsider going into government?

Safe as Houses

It is the list that nobody wants to be on. No candidate wants the electorate to believe that they have a "safe seat". They would much rather people believed they are in serious bother and need a big push during the campaign to sneak them over the line.

But the reality is that if you look through the 40 constituencies, it is possible to identify a lot of candidates that look pretty certain to feature in the 32nd Dáil. These are the "bankers".

Recovery Position

After an amazing five years at the top of the Fine Gael cliché charts, "The best small country in the world to do business" has been dramatically toppled.

Enda Kenny’s favourite post-bust mantra has been replaced with "Let's keep the recovery going". 

It was the party’s slogan in the Citywest Hotel this weekend and if this Ard Fheis is anything to go by we can expect to be hit with a proverbial sledge-hammer as Fine Gael drives that message home throughout the election campaign.

BaIancing act

Even the most optimistic on the Government side will concede that numbers are likely to be very tight when the time comes to form the next administration. That’s good news for Independent TDs.

A certain understanding exists now between the outgoing Government parties and a small number of Independents about how the days after the election might possibly pan out.

So who are the potential kingmakers who could shape the next Dáil?

Mind the (gender) gap

One of the distinctive features of General Election 2016 is the new requirement for the major political parties that 30% of their candidates must be female.

Gender quotas have not been short of detractors. But one stark statistic shows that some action was necessary to have more female representation in the Dáil – only 95 of the 1,242 TDs elected to Dáil Éireann since 1918 have been women.

At this stage, we do not know if the 32nd Dáil will have more women than the current number. But we do know that all parties look set to meet the quota.

Highs and lows

It's been a mixed bag for the current Coalition. A look back at the positives and the negatives for the Government as it seeks re-election.

Blowing in the wind

Party apparatchiks will argue that every one of the 158 seats in the 40 constituencies is equally important, although some of the battles are of particular interest because of the personalities involved.

Others are "weathervane" constituencies, which are good indicators of how the political winds are blowing nationally in Election 2016.

Take a look at some of the key constituencies for each political party.