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Green Party to withdraw from coalition

The Greens withdraw from government – but will continue to support the Finance Bill from the Dáil’s opposition benches.

Image: Peter Morrison/AP

THE GREEN PARTY is withdrawing from Ireland’s coalition government, in the wake of Brian Cowen’s decision to step down as leader of Fianna Fáil.

Speaking at the Merrion Hotel, Green Party leader John Gormley said: “We believe this election is absolutely necessary.

“Our patience has reached an end. We have decided that we can no longer remain in government.”

The Greens have said that they will, as the Opposition, ensure that the Finance Bill will be passed. Gormley said: “We believe the Finance Bill can be ‘truncated’… we need cooperation from opposition parties to ensure the Finance Bill can pass.”

Gormley said that a “breakdown in trust” between his party and Fianna Fáil had occurred, caused by issues such as the cabinet crisis earlier this week as well as controversial revelations concerning Cowen’s contact with bankers, about which the Greens were not informed.

Cowen’s announcement of his resignation on Saturday caused considerable anger within the Green Party; John Gormley said that he was told of Cowen’s decision about “fifteen or twenty minutes” before publicly announcing his departure “as a matter of courtesy”.

When asked today if he told Fianna Fáil of the decision Gormley said: “Of course we informed the Taoiseach”. When pressed, however, Gormley refused to say when exactly he had contacted Brian Cowen to inform him.

Speaking to RTÉ at the Leinster Club Championship match between Kilmacud and Rhode in Portlaoise today, Brian Cowen refused to be drawn on whether the Green’s departure would prompt him to step down as Taoiseach, but insisted: “I think it’s important to get the Finance Bill through.”

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Cowen also thanked the Greens for their contribution to the government, but added that it was “not possible” to pass the Finance Bill within a week.

The withdrawal of the Green Party means that a general election could take place before the end of February.

The Green Party announcement: Read the full text | Listen here >

Additonal reporting by Gavan Reilly.

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