Election Date Shifts As Green Party Quit

In dramatic events over the weekend, the Green Party has left the coalition Government forcing the March election date to be brought forward.

The election date is now expected to take place on February 25, but a concrete date will not be set unless the crucial Finance Bill is passed over the next week to 10 days.

Yesterday, Green Party Leader John Gormley said his party's patience with Fianna Fail and Brian Cowen had "reached an end" and had decided they could no longer continue in government.

The shock move follows an equally startling announcement by the Taosieach Brian Cowen on Saturday, when he announced his resignation as Fianna Fail Leader. Mr Cowen is expected to remain as Taoiseach until the Dáil is dissolved by the President in the coming weeks.

In yesterday's statement, Mr Gormley said that his party had stood back in the hope that Fianna Fáil could resolve the "persistent doubts" over their party leadership adding that the situation changed after the Irish people began to "lose confidence in politics and in the political process".

Mr Gormley blamed Brian Cowen's failure to reshuffle his cabinet and ability to unite his party behind him for their decision to withdraw from the coalition, and said he regretted not having more time to complete other legislation.

"It has been a very rare privilege to serve in government. It would of course have been preferable if our time in government had not coincided with the worst economic downturn in our nation’s history. It has meant having to take the most difficult decisions that any party could have faced."

The Dáil is now facing growing pressure to pass the Finance Bill that details arrangement's for the IMF/EU bailout.

Fine Gael and Labour said they wanted a commitment that the Bill would be passed by next Friday, but the current Finance Minister Mr Lenihan suggested it would not be possible to get it through the Dáil until next Wednesday.

Mr Lenihan has invited the Greens and the Opposition parties to meet him this afternoon to discuss how the Finance Bill can be passed before the election.


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