24 Jan 2011

Greens withdraw from Ireland's government

8:37 am on 24 January 2011

Ireland's Green Party has withdrawn from Prime Minister Brian Cowen's government on Sunday but said it would support the passage of the final piece of legislation underpinning the 2011 austerity budget.

Their decision to leave government and resign their ministeries means that an election is likely to be held before the 11 March date chosen by Mr Cowen last week.

On Saturday, Mr Cowen resigned as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party but said he would stay on as prime minister until the election.

Green Party leader John Gormley told a hastily-called news conference in a Dublin hotel that the party had decided it could no longer continue in government.

The Greens said they would support the Finance Bill from the opposition benches and called on Mr Cowen to speed up the legislation's passage.

Mr Cowen won a secret ballot on his leadership on Tuesday, but the BBC reports he was forced to call the election after a bungled cabinet reshuffle.

His ratings have fallen sharply amid the economic crisis in the Irish Republic, which accepted a bail-out package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund last year.