Vote Rests With Independent TDs

The crucial Finance Bill, which could fundamentally affect Ireland's future, is today in the hands of three Independent TDs.

Michael Lowry, Jackie Healy-Rae and Mattie McGrath said yesterday their support was provisional, depending on the inclusion of a number of amendments.

Mr Lowry is today meeting Taoiseach Brian Cowen to discuss the inclusion of changes to the self-employed tax return date, tax relief on third level fees and the Universal Social Charge.

The of office of Government Chief Whip John Curran said the Government remains hopeful that the second stage of the Finance Bill can be passed in a vote at midday.

Currently, the Labour Party, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein are all opposed to the bill, leaving the Government's slim majority dependant on the votes from the Independents in the house.

If all three vote against the Bill in the Dáil today it will be an embarrassing defeat for the Government who is sure to be dissolved sooner than the current February 25 deadline date.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr McGrath said he was concerned about measures in the proposed legislation dealing with Section 23 property relief, the bankers' bonus and self-employed having to pay more tax.

Deputy McGrath said he had spoken to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan last night, and he expected further discussion with him today.


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