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Uproar as minister after minister quits Irish cabinet

PM Brian Cowen, faced with a general election this spring, is expected to name a new cabinet.

DUBLIN – There has been uproar in the Irish parliament after five ministers quit the cabinet inside two days, with a sixth expected to join them, BBC informs.


It was confirmed overnight that four had tendered their resignations, joining Foreign Minister Micheal Martin, who stood down on Tuesday. The enterprise minister is said to be also planning to resign.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen, faced with a general election this spring, is expected to name a new cabinet. His government has seen its support rapidly dwindle since negotiating an international rescue for the debt-ridden economy last year. The Dail (parliament) was suspended for 15 minutes during rowdy scenes after the opposition demanded the taoiseach (prime minister) come into the House and clarify who was in charge of the six ministries affected.


Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said that in 20 years he had never been in a situation where “we don’t know if we have a government, who’s in the government”.


“My advice to the taoiseach is that he should come into the Dail and dissolve the Dail and call elections,” Noel O’Flynn, himself a member of Mr Cowen’s Fianna Fail party but a critic of his leader, told Irish broadcaster RTE.


Mr Martin stood down after losing a challenge to Mr Cowen’s leadership of Fianna Fail, which opinion polls suggest will suffer badly in the election. Mary Harney from health, Dermot Ahern from justice, Noel Dempsey from transport and Tony Killeen from defence resigned in the past 24 hours.Batt O’Keefe, minister for enterprise, was said by Irish media to be resigning on Thursday.


With a general election looming, the norm is that when ministers resign other ministers double up on portfolios, but a government spokesman said it was more likely that the posts would be filled by new appointments.


This has created fury in the government’s junior coalition partner, the Green Party, on whom Cowen’s Fianna Fail relies for its support. Green Party member of parliament Paul Gogarty said the resignations ‘smack of an orchestrated plan’ and ‘have more to do with Fianna Fail’s interests’ than the country’s interest. ‘Appointing five new ministers at this critical juncture would smack of jobs for the boys and cosmetic surgery for endangered candidates in need of a makeover. ‘To do so would show a serious lack of political judgement, a lack of empathy for what the people of Ireland are going through and of course may have unintended consequences.’

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