A second Fianna Fáil TD has called on Brian Cowen to step down as Taoiseach and party leader.

Dublin South East TD Chris Andrews said he was making the call in the light of developments of the past week and particularly today.

Mr Andrews said there should be consultations with the Opposition to find all-party agreement to get the Budget through.

He said if that was not possible there should be an immediate General Election.

It follows Cork North Central TD Noel O'Flynn's acknowledgement that he had written to Mr Cowen asking him to resign as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil party leader.

In his letter to the Taoiseach Mr O'Flynn said he had issues with Mr Cowen's 'leadership style' and 'ability to communicate with the public'.

Mr O'Flynn said that the citizens of Ireland, members of the parliamentary party, members of the Fianna Fáil organisation and supporters 'were misled' last week with the Government 'being in denial all of last week'.

Former Defence Minister, Limerick TD Willie O’Dea said that he was surprised at the Green Party decision to call for a General Election in January.

Mr O’Dea said that political instability cannot do any good in dealing with the country's difficulties.

On the leadership of Brian Cowen, he said that he had firm views on the issue. However, he said a party meeting would be the most honourable way to discuss them.

He also said that an earlier election (than January) is possible if the Independents vote against the Budget.

He said an alternative is an immediate election but that this was not the most desirable outcome for the public or the candidates.

But he added, quoting from John Kenneth Galbraith, ‘in politics you often have to choose between the disastrous and the unpalatable’.

Opposition reaction

Fine Gael's Deputy Leader James Reilly has urged the Taoiseach to go to the Áras with his seal of office and seek the dissolution of the current Dáil.

Mr Reilly said the people need to be able to make a decision on who governs them.

He said if a new Government was formed, a Budget from that new Government could be in place before Christmas.

He said Fine Gael would not give a blank cheque to Government with regard to supporting the Budget on 7 December.

Mr Reilly said he did not know if there was any point in tabling a no confidence motion in the Taoiseach, as the stance of Independents and other parties in the Dáil would need to be known in advance of any such move.

He said that Fine Gael has policies in place to reform politics, the health service, public service and many other aspects of Irish life.
Asked if the party intended to publish its budget, he said that would happen in time.

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.

Fine Gael's Richard Bruton said the Government seemed to be falling apart and there should be a General Election.

In a statement, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said he welcomed the Green Party's announcement.

'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.'

Later, Mr Gilmore said the announcement by the Green Party that they intend to withdraw from Government in January puts a final date on the life of the current Government.

He said the Green Party decision was welcome although belated.
Mr Gilmore said the sooner a General Election is held the better.

He said the Labour Party is now accelerating its election plan and would stand before the people as an alternative Government intent on growing the Irish economy, getting people back to work and in reforming the public service and politics.

Asked if he would consider tabling a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach he said it was something the party would consider but he said the Taoiseach must know that his Government is now disintegrating.

His party colleague Pat Rabbitte said the Green Party is jumping from a sinking ship.

Mr Rabbitte said that the party has been a 'pathetic and weak influence in Government' and has no future politically. He said the Greens will now claim it was them who brought on the election and he said the move was 'one-upmanship' of the highest order.

Labour TD Joe Costello has said the Taoiseach should call an election immediately.

He said the Government has no mandate to negotiate a four-year plan or bring in a Budget and an election now would produce a Government with a mandate before Christmas.

Sinn Féin has 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.

TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said the Green Party had a cheek to say they are calling for an election at the same time as supporting a Budget that would hurt a lot of people.

Elsewhere, gardaí have ejected a number of people from Government Buildings.

The group, made up mainly of Sinn Féin supporters, had pushed their way through the gates during a protest against the Government at lunchtime.

Mr Ó Snodaigh accused gardaí of being heavy-handed during the protest.

Four members of Ógra Shinn Féin occupied the offices of Fianna Fáil councillors in Cork City Hall.

The four, bearing flags and banners hanging out the windows said they were protesting at what they call Fianna Fáil's selling-off of Irish sovereignty. The protest lasted about 30 minutes.

Earlier today they held a lunchtime protest outside the city's GPO with another protest planned for the city's national monument at 6pm this evening.