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October 1, 2020

Irish parties agree timetable on finance bill, election

DUBLIN – The Irish government and opposition have agreed a timetable on passing a vital finance bill. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said he expected the bill, a condition of Ireland’s international bail-out, to be passed by Saturday, according to BBC.

Under the terms of the deal, parliament would be dissolved next week and elections could be held on 25 February. Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s majority in parliament collapsed on Sunday when the Green party quit his coalition.

That capped a disastrous week for Cowen, in which eight of his ministers resigned and he himself stepped down as leader of his party, Fianna Fail. Lenihan chaired Monday’s talks with his counterparts from the Greens, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein, after Labour threatened to bring a motion of no confidence against the government if the finance bill was not fast-tracked through the Dail (parliament).

The opposition were also calling for parliament to be dissolved by the end of the week, and a general election to be held in February, sooner than the 11 March date set by the government. “I believe it will be extremely likely now that the next general election will be held on Friday, Feb 25,” the opposition Labour’s finance spokeswoman Joan Burton told reporters after the meeting. Pearse Doherty of Sinn Fein called the agreement a “grubby little deal” because it avoided an immediate general election.

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