Early election for Ireland

Elizabeth Fournier
THE IRISH government will bring forward its general election to late next month if the country’s crucial Finance Bill can be passed this week, with 25 February touted as a likely date.

Opposition parties including Fine Gael and the Labour Party had threatened to bring an action of no confidence against Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s minority administration today, unless the Bill was fast-tracked through Parliament.

Though Cowen had earlier indicated that the opposition’s deadline of Friday was “not possible”, it seems a compromise was reached to allow an extra day of debate.

The general election was originally scheduled for 11 March.

“I believe it will be extremely likely now that the general election will be held on Friday 25 February,” said Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton.