Election after budgetary process is completeMonday 22 November 2010 22.00
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said he will seek a dissolution of the Dáil after the current budgetary process is complete.
Mr Cowen said this evening it is a matter of importance that the Dáil and Government should continue to discharge its obligations to bring forward solutions to the current economic position.
He said the Government will publish its four-year plan this week, present a Budget to the Dáil in December, and continue discussions with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
The Taoiseach said the national concern had sometimes to take precedence over political or personal ones.
Mr Cowen was surrounded by Fianna Fáil members of the Cabinet as he made his statement at Government Buildings.
The statement followed a meeting with Fianna Fáil ministers after the Green Party called for a General Election to be held in the second half of January 2011.
Commenting on the announcement by the Green Party today, Mr Cowen said he had spoken to John Gormley and the Greens are willing to support the work of Government in the coming weeks and months.
He said, as a party, they feel the issue of an election should take place in the New Year.
Mr Cowen said it has always been his intention to complete the jobs of national importance.
Asked whether his announcement would cause confusion, Mr Cowen said the passing of the Budget is hugely important for the country.
He said as discussions with European partners continue, the Government must proceed to fulfil its duties.
Mr Cowen said as Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fáil he wants to continue with that job, asked if he would lead his party into the next election, Mr Cowen said it is an issue for the party to decide who is the leader.
He said it is imperative for the country that the Budget is passed, he said it is in the interest of political stability.
Mr Cowen said any further delay in the Budget would weaken the country’s position.
Concluding the news conference Mr Cowen said to delay the Budget or not to proceed with it would do grave damage to the country.
A spokesperson for the Green Party said the party is pleased with what Brian Cowen had to say and noted his emphasis on completing the budgetary process, the four-year plan and the financial negotiations with EU and IMF.
Call for immediate election
It comes after Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin called for an immediate election.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny called for an 'immediate' General Election, saying the Green Party's call for the country to go to the polls in the New Year has caused further political uncertainty.
Fine Gael's Deputy Leader James Reilly urged the Taoiseach to go to the Áras with his seal of office and seek the dissolution of the current Dáil.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore added his voice to the calls for an election saying that 'it is essential that we have a new government elected as soon as possible.'
Welcoming the Green Party's announcement, he said: 'The Green Party has at last recognised what the country has realised for many months, that this government is long passed its sell-by date and that it is incapable of leading the country to economic recovery.'
Sinn Féin said the Government should hold a General Election before Christmas, saying it would help stabilise the country and send a positive message to the markets.
Independent TD Michael Lowry said it was now highly unlikely that he would support the Budget, unless Labour and Fine Gael consult with the Minister for Finance to reach agreement with the Government on Budget measures.
Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae said it was very unlikely he would support the Budget, but he would have to see what was in it before making a final decision. He said he would not support cuts to the Old Age Pension.
Green Party announcement
The Green Party leader made his announcement at a specially convened news conference this morning.
The leader of the Government's junior coalition partner said that three things needed to be done: produce a credible four-year plan, deliver a Budget for 2011, and secure funding support from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Mr Gormley said the party had always said it would only continue in Government as long as it would benefit the people, but leaving the country without a Government would be damaging and breach duty of care.
The Green Party leader said that people felt misled and betrayed and he said the last three weeks had been traumatic for Irish people.
The party had now reached a point where the Irish people need political certainty to take them beyond the coming two months, he said.
The decision was made last Saturday after a long series of meetings, he said.
'Since entering Government in June 2007, we in the Green Party have worked to fix and reform the economy. It has been difficult. We have taken tough decisions and put the national interest first,' he said.
Mr Gormley said in recent days there was a real problem in terms of communications and the answers the Greens got were not clear enough.
He said the party felt they needed clarity around the issues.
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan said the first priority for the Coalition Government was to pass the Budget and publish its four-year plan in the national interest.
He said after that there should be a General Election.