Absent Taoiseach As Dáil Returns From Summer Break

As the Daíl returns following its long summer break, the economy is dominating the agenda, despite the absence of the Taoiseach.

The Dáil has been in recess since early July, despite pressure on the government by the opposition parties to reconvene early over concerns about public finances and the fallout from the crisis in the international financial system.

The Government had also brought forward the 2008-2009 Budget in response to the deteriorating economic situation, but this move has been met with little enthusiasm from opponent parties.

Despite opposition parties waiting over two months to have their economic questions answered, Ministers will have to wait a little longer as the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, will be out of the country, travelling to New York today to join other international leaders for a high-level United Nations meeting on world poverty.

During the visit for the launch of the 'Hunger Task Force' report, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also join the Taoiseach.

It was set up by the Government two years ago to identify how Ireland can best contribute to efforts to alleviate global hunger.

The Taoiseach was at the opening of the Daíl on Wednesday morning, were he was accused by Enda Kenny of "cowardice" in refusing to hold an emergency debate on the economy, and threatening to use the Daíl's 'pairing' system to force a debate before the end of the week.

However, Mr Cowen's international engagements will mean such a debate could be delayed.


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