March election date thought likely

It is thought likely that the Taoiseach Brian Cowen will name a March date for a General Election, to allow time for the legislative framework for Budget 2011 to pass into law.

It is thought likely that the Taoiseach Brian Cowen will name a March date for a General Election, to allow time for the legislative framework for Budget 2011 to pass into law.

Speaking tonight after an emergency meeting of Fianna Fáil ministers sparked by the Green Party's call for a General Election to be called in the new year, the Taoiseach said the country's future depended on Budget 2011's being passed.

He said there was a "clear duty on all members of Dáil Eireann" to facilitate the passing of the Budget on December 7 and added that the on-going EU/IMF negotiations with the Government depended on the budgetary measures coming into effect.

Mr Cowen was speaking for the first time since the Green Party effectively pulled the plug on the coalition by calling for an election in January.

It is likely the Finance Bill will not be completed until sometime in February, signalling an election in March.

Mr Cowen also effectively told disgruntled backbenchers, who spoke out agaisnt him yesterday and today, that there were procedures in the party to deal with the issue of leadership.

"This country's interests go well beyond any personal considerations of me as Taoiseach, or anyone else in the party, or anyone else in any other party…We have got to get this Budget passed," he said.

Brian Cowen's statement in full

“There are occasions when the imperative of serving the national interest transcends other concerns, including party political and personal concerns...This is one such occasion.

“The vital national interests of this country require that financial stability be achieved:

:: By publishing a four-year plan which sets out how the necessary €15bn adjustment will be implemented by 2014.

:: By adopting a Budget which effects a €6bn adjustment in 2011.

:: By taking the necessary legislative and other measures to give effect to the terms of the Budget.

:: And by concluding negotiations on a programme for support from the European Union, the ECB and the IMF. These negotiations, in turn, are taking place in the context of the budgetary arrangements coming into effect.

“It is a matter of the highest importance that Dáil Eireann should continue to consider and enact the relevant measures, and that the Government should continue to discharge its obligation to bring forward the necessary proposals.

“There will be a time for political accountability to the electorate.

“The interests of the electorate, of all our people, will not be served by delaying, or worse still casting into doubt, the steps which are necessary to secure our economy and financial stability.

“The Government will publish its four-year plan next Wednesday; it will continue the negotiations with the EU, the ECB and with the IMF; it will present a Budget to the Dáil on December 7 and it will introduce the necessary resolutions and legislation to give definitive effect to those measures.

“We believe that there is a clear duty on all members of Dáil Eireann to facilitate the passage of these measures in the uniquely serious circumstances in which we find ourselves. The political and financial stability of the State requires no less.

“It is the Taoiseach’s intention, at the conclusion of this budgetary process with the enactment of the necessary legislation in the New Year, to seek a dissolution of Dáil Eireann and to enable the people to determine who should undertake the responsibilities of Government in the challenging period ahead.”

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