BREAKING NEWS: Dublin: Government Collapses As Greens Pull Plug: UPDATED

23 Jan

Brian Cowen had been under pressure for ...
 

Full text of Green Party statement

Statement by Green Party Leader John Gormley at a news conference in the Merrion Hotel in Dublin

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining us.

On November 22 last we said that an election should be held early this year because of the events surrounding the IMF bailout. On that occasion we identified four key priorities, which needed to be addressed before this election could take place. These were: concluding financial arrangements with the EU/IMF; producing a four-year economic plan; passing Budget 2011; and passing the Finance Bill to give effect to that Budget.

Today, three of these four objectives have been completed. We believe it is possible to complete the Finance Bill quickly before going to a general election.

We believe that this election is absolutely necessary. The Irish people have begun to lose confidence in politics and in the political process. They have watched aghast the conduct in Dáil Éireann of political parties.

The Irish people expect and deserve better.

For a very long time we in the Green Party have stood back in the hope that Fianna Fáil could resolve persistent doubts about their party leadership. A definitive resolution of this has not yet been possible. And our patience has reached an end.

Because of these continuing doubts, the lack of communication and the breakdown in trust, we have decided that we can no longer continue in government.

We will remain true to our promise to support the Finance Bill from the Opposition benches, with the promised cooperation of the opposition parties. Yesterday, Eamon Ryan initiated contact with the main opposition party in this regard. And they have undertaken to facilitate the passage of the Finance Bill.

I understand that similar undertakings have now been given by other opposition parties.

We hope that they will keep their word.

We also hope that the Fianna Fáil party will make every effort to fast-track this legislation.

It has been a very rare privilege to serve in government. It would of course have been preferable if our time in government had not coincided with the worst economic downturn in our nation’s history. It has meant having to take the most difficult decisions that any party could have faced.

We did so it was because it was the right thing to do.

I am proud of our many achievements in the areas of planning, renewable energy, energy-standards of buildings, water conservation and other environmental areas. I’m proud that we gave rights to gay couples through civil partnership, and that we persisted in our belief that education and the arts should be protected. These two areas are absolutely vital for our economic recovery.

I regret obviously that we did not have more time to complete our other legislation, which is very well advanced.

I would like to thank our party members for their steadfast and loyal support in the face of unprecedented challenges. I’d like to thank our hard-working staff and our families who have had to endure the pressures that go with being in government.

Our record is one of responsibility, reform, steadfastness and creativity.

And these are the very characteristics that will enable this country to get back on a path of sustainable recovery, underpinned by a very different set of values.

GO RAIBH MILE MAITH AGAIBH.

NEWS UPDATE:

AP – FILE – This is a Monday Nov. 22, 2010. file photo of Ireland’s Green Party leader and Environment Minister, …
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press:

DUBLIN – Ireland’s Green Party withdrew Sunday from the Irish government, raising pressure for Prime Minister Brian Cowen to resign from office and for Ireland to hold a national election sooner than March 11 as planned.

Green leader John Gormley said his small party — critical for the survival of Cowen’s coalition government — would immediately join the opposition side of the parliament.

Gormley stressed that his lawmakers would support the last essential deficit-fighting measure facing a parliamentary vote, the 2011 Finance Bill — then join other opposition forces in requiring a February election.

“The Irish people want to see political certainty, economic certainty, and they do want an election,” said Gormley, whose environmentalist party joined the Irish government in 2007.

Cowen said the Greens’ withdrawal made it essential for all parties to reach an agreement within the next few days on speedy passage of the Finance Bill, which will broadly raise income taxes as part of Ireland’s international bailout.

He ruled out resigning as prime minister before that legislation becomes law.

“It’s important that we get the Finance Bill through, and we need a government to do that,” said Cowen, who did resign Saturday as leader of Ireland’s political heavyweight, the Fianna Fail party. It is expected to suffer heavy losses in the election.

Sunday’s Green withdrawal means Cowen has already lost two more Cabinet ministers: Environment Minister Gormley and Communications Minister Eamon Ryan. Cowen has only seven of 15 Cabinet ministers remaining — the bare minimum permitted by Ireland’s constitution — following his disastrous management of an attempted Cabinet reshuffle last week.

The two major opposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, are threatening to force a no-confidence vote in parliament this week against Cowen unless he promises to get the Finance Bill passed by Friday.

Cowen and Gormley both agreed Sunday, however, that the bill was so complex and wide-ranging that it must receive more time for debate and amendment.

“It’s not possible to deal with it in a week,” Cowen said.

Gormley appealed to Fine Gael and Labour to hold fire until the Finance Bill is passed by the fastest responsible means possible.

“We do need some certainty around the Finance Bill. It does need to pass. It’s genuinely in the national interest that that happens,” Gormley said.

The loss of support from six Green lawmakers means Cowen can no longer muster a parliamentary majority. If he lost a confidence vote he would be obliged to resign immediately and call an election within four weeks.

All sides agreed that the Green decision means the March 11 election date announced last week by Cowen is null and void. Analysts said a new election date, most likely in the second half of February, would be pinpointed this week.

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