The Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, has compared being in Government during the current economic crisis to being in an asylum.

Mr Gormley made the comments during a Dáil during the debate on the EU/IMF programme for Ireland.

Mr Gormley said the Opposition had said the deal was like a ‘straitjacket’, and said it was an apt metaphor.

The Green Party leader warned his Labour counterpart, Eamon Gilmore, that he would find himself in Government, and would have to endure ‘the sleepless nights, the no-win situations, the non-stop criticism’.

He said there was nothing worse in a democracy than having to say: ‘I have to do act in this way, because I have no other options.'

Mr Gormley said he wished Mr Gilmore well, but said ‘it will eat you up inside’.

Mr Gormley said the new economy would have to be more durable than the old.

He said we had to learn from the mistakes of the past and retain optimism and confidence.

He defended his party's decision to stay in Government to pass the toughest budget in a generation saying it took courage to do so. He said it was the right thing to do.

Deal puts Ireland in 'hock' - Kenny

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told the Dáil that the €85bn IMF/EU financial rescue deal agreed last Sunday is a bad deal for Ireland.

Mr Kenny said it was forced on Ireland because of the negligence and arrogance of the Government. He said the children of the next generation will pay for this.

Ireland, he said, has been forced to borrow billions because of bad management by the Government. He said we will be in ‘hock’ for decades and that the family silver had been sold.

In response, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said Ireland was funded to the middle of next year. He asked from what other source Mr Kenny expected to get money.

Mr Cowen said the country now had space to stabilise and look for growth. He said we would try to grow confidence at home and abroad.

Mr Kenny said the reason we cannot borrow is because of the ineptitude of the Government.

He said the deal last Sunday was a demonstration of the craft of self destruction. He said it was done as if the people did not exist. He said neither the people nor the Oireachtas had been consulted.

Mr Kenny also made reference to the EC’s lowering of Ireland’s growth forecast, saying it sent a ‘torpedo’ through the Government figures.

Mr Cowen said he stood by the Government's growth forecast of 1.75%.

Eamon Gilmore said the deal was a sell-out of the taxpayer, who would be paying for the mismanagement by Fianna Fáil.

Mr Gilmore said Fianna Fáil had taken the country to the pawn shop. The agreement, he said, purports to tie the hands of the next government, and asked if there would be a vote.

Deputy Gilmore told the Taoiseach he had no shame to try to spin what was a lousy deal.

And Deputy Gilmore said the Labour Party had suggested using the National Pension Reserve Fund for the hospital beds that the Government would not provide.

He asked again if there would be a vote on the deal and he invoked the Constitution in asking this.

The Taoiseach said Article 29.4 of the Constitution dealt with the way the Government is approaching the deal.

Mr Cowen said the deals do not have to come before the Oireachtas for approval.

Mr Kenny later said the lack of political input into the EU/IMF deal meant that the taxpayer was being hit for a debt that would not be paid for a generation or more.

He said he regretted the failure of the Government to get involved in 'heavyweight' negotiations.

Mr Kenny said the European Commission had indicated that it would be happy to hear from a future government on other programmes that would be stronger on job creation and investment.

The Fine Gael leader took issue with a group of MEPs seeking to revise Ireland's corporation tax rate. He said the Irish people had voted in favour of the Lisbon Treaty which included a clause stating that taxation issues would be dealt with by the individual countries.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has said it has taken legal advice on the constitutionality of the loan agreement.

The party's Dáil leader, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said if the agreement was not approved by the Dáil, the Government would be acting unconstitutionally.

Mary Lou McDonald confirmed legal advice had been taken, but a view could not be taken until the precise terms of the agreement were seen.