Greens walk out of doomed Irish coalition

The Dublin political world was in ferment yesterday as the junior partner in the doomed administration pulled its ministers out of government, forcing an earlier general election than had been scheduled.

In resigning, the Green Party's ministers said they had lost trust in their Fianna Fail partners. But rather than bring down the government immediately, the Greens will first co-operate with opposition parties to fast-track an important finance bill.

The Green Party leader, John Gormley, announced: "For a very long time we have stood back in the hope that Fianna Fail 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," he added. "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."

Brian Cowen, who on Saturday stepped down as leader of Fianna Fail – though not as Prime Minister – had set 11 March as the election date. But an earlier poll, probably in February, is now expected.

Mr Cowen stood down as party leader after suffering a disastrous self-inflicted wound when he sought to "refresh" his cabinet by hustling in five new ministers. While he designed this as a political "stroke", it was viewed as a crass move which alienated his own party and finally sealed his political fate.

During his bungled move, the Greens effectively vetoed his attempt to bring in new cabinet ministers, which meant he had to have some ministers double up in responsibilities. The Green's move yesterday means that, semi-comically, Fianna Fail ministers will now be required to take on even more responsibilities, if only until the election.

The public desire for an early election is palpable, but although it seems set to take place before 11 March, the exact date will depend on how quickly the finance bill can be ushered through the Dail. Talks are to open today involving the government, the Greens and opposition parties.

There is universal acceptance that the recent political convulsions have been damaging to the Irish Republic's reputation abroad, with much comment on the New York Times's use of the word "circus".

One politician said: "Our international reputation is being slaughtered out there." Another said he hoped the finance bill could be through by Friday, adding: "I don't want another weekend of this kind of uncertainty, where we're the subject of jokes and puns internationally." The next head of Fianna Fail is to be chosen on Wednesday in a secret ballot.

The three leading contenders are the former foreign minister Micheal Martin, the finance minister Brian Lenihan, and the culture minister Mary Hanafin. Mr Martin is very much the bookies' favourite, with the largest number of declared supporters from among Fianna Fail's Dail members who will make the choice.

Mr Martin, who has largely escaped blame for his party's economic mistakes, has been given credit for showing decisiveness during the moves to dislodge Mr Cowen and by resigning last week from the government. Mr Lenihan, who is suffering from cancer, was formerly the front-runner but has lost ground in recent weeks.

In announcing his candidature, he said his doctors had told him his tumour had reduced substantially and assured him he was "more than able" to act as leader.

One striking feature of the pitches of various Fianna Fail figures is the explicit recognition that their party, under whichever leader, is set for a dreadful election result. One contender said the party would need to be rebuilt "parish by parish".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
books
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Sport
sport
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine