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Irish report Irish report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-26 09:49:07
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Irish opposition pParties call for February election

Ireland's two main opposition parties Monday called on the Fianna Fail-led minority government to fast-track legislation for the country's international bailout and to dissolve parliament by Friday to facilitate a general election in February. Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton reiterated her party's intention in a statement Monday to push ahead with a no-confidence motion this Wednesday unless the bill is passed by Friday. "This would allow the Dail [Parliament] to be dissolved on Saturday and an election called for February," she said. Ireland's coalition government was left in disarry over the weekend, after Prime Minister Brian Cowen resigned Saturday and junior coalition partner Green Party withdrew and joined opposition benches the following day.

The Green Party, along with Labour and the other major opposition parties, Fine Gael, is pushing for the Fienna Fail-led minority government to pass the finance bill as quickly as possible to hasten elections currently scheduled for March 11. Under the terms of Ireland's €67.5 billion rescue package agreed upon with the European Union and International Monetary Fund, Ireland must pass the bill and implement austerity budget measures in the first quarter of 2011. Ireland will contribute an additional €17.5 billion to the package. The finance bill will bring into law remaining measures from last December's budget. On Monday, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of the Fianna Fail party pledged to fast-track the bill and said he was meeting with opposition parties. "I am prepared to be constructive," he told Ireland's state broadcaster RTE Radio. "But we can't be pushed into a general election regardless of the correct procedures with the finance bill ... As short as possible timetable will be devised." A Green Party spokesman, who asked for anonymity, said that Fine Gael and Labour wouldn't propose no-confidence motions in the government if they were serious about passing the bill.
In her statement Monday, Ms. Burton said the debate on the bill should be finished this week and not put off by the minority government. "The delaying tactic is nothing to do with devoting more time for the finance bill and all about giving more time for Fianna Fail and its leadership election process," she said. "If the political will is there, the debate on the finance bill can be completed this week."  Spokesmen for the opposition Fine Gael and Labour parties said in interviews Monday that they want an election in February. Over the weekend, both Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore—who are likely to form the next coalition government--issued separate statements calling for an immediate election, accusing Fianna Fail of delay tactics while it sorts out its party leadership issue. Mr. Kenny said in a statement that Mr. Cowen should "immediately" seek the dissolution of the Dail. "If he refuses to do so, Fine Gael will move a motion of no confidence in Brian Cowen as Taoiseach in the Dail on Tuesday," Kenny said in a statement. Mr. Gilmore threatened a no-confidence motion Wednesday: "The finance bill must be enacted this week, the Dail dissolved by the weekend and the election called for the earliest possible date. Only when that has been done can the process of national recovery begin."


Ireland under intense media scrutiny

The Irish political crisis has formed the basis for 4,685 articles in 2,500 publications across 72 countries. We have made the front pages across the world again with articles published in the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Sky News, BBC, CNN and Bloomberg are all carrying the story. While news services like Reuters, ITN and AFP are also covering the topic. Yesterday afternoon the topic was also trending on Twitter worldwide. Former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox says there needs to be a general election sooner rather than later.


Ireland’s industrial landscape in interesting times

In his look back on the week, Siliconrepublic.com editor John Kennedy urges politicians and future leaders to put Ireland’s digital, innovation and green economies and job creation at the heart of their planned policies. It is clear to anyone that for Ireland to emerge from its present set of circumstances, it needs to emerge a productive economy where innovation marches in step with entrepreneurial flair. Our history as a nation centred solely on construction is exactly that, history. We can’t put our eggs in any one basket.

The decision yesterday by the Green Party to step down from Government puts important legislation such as the Finance Bill and the Climate Change Bill in the spotlight. Eamon Ryan TD will be stepping down as Minister for Communications and John Gormley TD will be stepping down as Minister for the Environment.

Events are happening at breakneck speed and following a tumultuous week in Irish politics in which Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD failed to implement a cabinet reshuffle and subsequently stepped down as leader of the Fianna Fail Party, in the past day the Green Party announced it is stepping away from Government. Ryan said that over the course of the next seven days it is vital that all parties sit down together and work out the passing of the crucial Finance Bill. It is likely the general election in Ireland will be brought forward to 25 February and not 11 March as set out by the Taoiseach in recent days. He said the Labour Party and Fine Gael have expressed a willingness to sit down and work on the Finance Bill.

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