Fine Gael Lock Gov In Dáil For Debate On Economy

Fine Gael have said they will use the 'Pairs' system to deny the Government absence from the Dáil during a debate on the economy.

In a statement from the party on Tuesday, the opposition party want to forward a motion in the Dáil indicting the Government "for its reckless economic policies over the last five years".

The pairs system allows a minister from one side of the house to be absent from a debate if they 'pair' with a minister from the other side who will also be absent, cancelling each-other out.

The statement from Fine Gael's chief whip, Paul Kehoe, asked: "What planet are Brian Cowen and his Cabinet of ministers on?" And said it would suspend the pairing system for the duration of the debate.

Mr Kehoe said: "After a summer of economic crisis heaped upon economic crisis, the Government refused to come back early, refused to spell out their plans to the country and have refused an emergency debate on the state of the economy. In fact, the first item of business on the Government's Dáil agenda is a joint taxation agreement with the Isle of Man, Macedonia and Vietnam."

However, some controversy has arisen over an exclusion from the pairing suspension for Minister Mary Hanafin, who is travelling with President McAleese.

Some Fine Gael supporters have claimed the exclusion of Minister Hanafin weakens the move for the opposition, with one observer on an influential politics forum comparing it to "not too far removed from the protest outside the cinema in Fr Ted".

However, others maintain the exclusion is essential, as heads of state are required to be accompanied by a government minister for legal reasons.


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