Talk of a general election dismissed by government ahead of what opposition say will be a giveaway budget.

The Rainbow Coalition government of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Democratic Left have put the final touches to the budget it hopes will boost support ahead of an election.

The government put the finishing touches to a budget today which it hopes will significantly boost the popularity of the coalition in the run up to the election.

Ministers are adamant that coalition leaders have not made a decision about a date for the election and have dismissed talk of an early election. Minister for State Jim Higgins says there is neither a public nor a political demand for an early election. He believes that the only demand for an election is coming from the opposition who have their own agenda. His best guess is that the election will take place any time between now and some time next year. There is nothing to stop the current government from running its full term. It is not the government's intention to call an election in the aftermath of the budget.

We'll get on with running the country.

The opposition have called the budget a cynical vote gathering exercise. Fianna Fáil TD Dermot Ahern says that the outcome of the budget will not influence the electorate.

I'm not all together sure that the Irish people are codded by a giveaway budget of this type where they see that something is taken with one hand and given with another.

When the election is called, it is thought that the current coalition parties will face a Fianna Fáil Progressive Democrat (PD) alliance. However, Dermot Ahern is sceptical of some PD policies especially in relation to the economy.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 January 1997. The reporter is Donal Kelly.