Cowen To Face Tough Dáil Debate

The Irish Republic's leader, Brian Cowen will be taking questions in the Dáil today on the monetary bailout, in what is expected to be a tough day for the Government.

A number of issues have been raised since details of the Bailout were released on Sunday, and the Taoiseach is likely to face questions over the legal status of the plan and the timing of the publication of the memorandum of understanding giving legal status to the proposal.

Yesterday, the Labour Party Spokesman on Justice Pat Rabbitte TD called on the Government to clarify the exact status in Irish and international law of the proposed EU-IMF Joint Programme for Ireland, worth €85 billion. Mr Rabbitte said uncertainty about the status of the agreement would give rise to challenges in the courts and lead to further instability.

"The problem here is that the courts have severely restricted the competence of the Government to enter into a binding contract which deprives it and its successors of the sovereign right to alter policies in the future.

"Of course the Government can borrow money on behalf of the State and can negotiate terms and conditions for repayment. But it is not entitled to contract away, on behalf of itself and its successors, the discretion to shape future policies differently.

Meanwhile, tensions are expected to be high during todays debate after a war of words erupted between the Labour party and Fianna Fail in recent days. The Government has accused Labour of "talking down" the Irish economy and damaging the State's reputation amongst international markets after the party released a number of press statements describing the country as "banjaxed" and as an "economic corpse".

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey hit out at the Labour Party saying it beggared belief that a national political party with aspirations to be in Government should talk down the country in this way.

"The messages that it sends to our own people, not to mention the international markets at this time could not be worse," he said.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the Labour Party have prioritised their own press coverage over the national interest. Only recently Joan Burton described the country as 'ruined' while Eamon Gilmore described the Irish National Recovery Plan as an 'instrument of surrender'. Equally shocking was Pat Rabbitte's decision to agree with the sentiment behind one tabloid headline: 'Ireland, RIP'."


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