Ireland ready for key vote

Steve Dinneen
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EMBATTLED Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s deeply unpopular government faces a crucial vote on its 2011 budget tomorrow.

The vote on the coalition’s deep austerity budget is by no means guaranteed, with the leading party’s majority wafer thin and several MPs mulling a protest vote against it.

Rebels from within the coalition had vowed to vote down the budget unless leader Cowen stepped down. However, the pressure is less intense now Ireland has already agreed to the €85bn (£72bn) EU rescue package.

Cowen says he intends to remain as Prime Minister until the bailout is implemented early next year. He will then call a general election he is expected to lose by a landslide.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have vowed to renegotiate the terms of Ireland’s bailout after an election early next year.