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Budget in crisis: Lowry and Healy-Rae say support is "unlikely"

The two Independent TDs who give the government its Dáil majority say their support can’t be counted on any more.

THE TWO INDEPENDENT TDS upon whom the government is reliant for its Dáil majority have said it is “unlikely” that either of them will vote in favour of the Budget – putting the government in serious danger of failing to pass the Budget in 15 days’ time.

Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry – who give the government a majority of 83-79 when they vote in its favour – told RTÉ Radio’s News at One that neither of them would make up their minds on whether to vote in favour of the Budget on December 7 until they saw the content of it.

Both, however, said it was “unlikely” – in Lowry’s case “highly” so, while Healy-Rae said it was “very unlikely” – that they would vote alongside the Government.

Their revelation came just two hours after the Green Party told Fianna Fáil that they would be seeking a general election in the second half of January, with their party pulling out of government after the IMF/EU bailout has been finalised.

Lowry told the programme that he felt the Greens’ announcement meant it was time for Fine Gael and Labour “to show their ability to lead”, saying it was “imperative… that they consult thoroughly and reach agreement with the government on the Budget’s parameters and its main measures.”

He went on:

I am not going to allow a situation to develop where the incoming governemnt sit on their hands [...] in relation to budgetary measures.

The next decision he would have to make on supporting the now ill-fated Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition would be “on the day that the Budget is announced”.

He confirmed, however, that “as it stands now, it is highly unlikely I will support that Budget.”

Listen to Healy-Rae and Lowry on RTÉ’s News at One >

Jackie Healy-Rae, meanwhile, confirmed an earlier statement – issued before the Green Party had made its own announcement – which read that the “time has come when I can no longer honour my word to support the Fianna Fáil government”.

Healy-Rae said he was very disappointed with how the involvement of the IMF had been managed by the government, and “what happpened in the last week.”

I’m led to believe yesterday that they [officials from the IMF and EU] were in the Merrion Hotel for a considerable length of time, and I was never told a thing about it.

While he said he had “great sympathy” for finance minister Brian Lenihan (“I know that he’s doing his very best”) he said that he would “not be supporting the government in any of that stuff that is going on”.

While Healy-Rae – who is the oldest TD in the Dáil, and is retiring at the next general election – said he would “want to be sure of what I’m doing” in relation to the matters contained in the Budget itself, he was firm in stating that “the government can no longer on my support”.

As a result, he was “not 100% certain” that he could support the Budget.

Assuming that Pearse Doherty - as is projected by the opinion polls – wins the by-election this Thursday in Donegal South-West, the government’s majority in the Dáil would be reduced to 82-80.

If Healy-Rae and Lowry were to vote along with the opposition, the government could expect to lose that Budget vote by 82 votes to 80.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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