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Taoiseach Brian Cowen photographed on 28 September, 2010. Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Cowen describes opposition talks as "constructive, civilised discussion"

Taoiseach says discussions and Department of Finance briefings have laid groundwork for a “constructive debate” on the economy in the Dáil next week.

TODAY’S INTER-PARTY TALKS HAVE ended, with Brian Cowen calling the discussions a “constructive, civilised discussion”.

Cowen and Minister John Gormley met with Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore an Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in an attempt to find some common ground between the parties on tackling the budget deficit.

Speaking on the Six One News after emerging from the talks, Cowen said that the main opposition parties were in agreement with the government on meeting the 3% budget deficit target by 2014.

Alluding to the issue of possible consensus beyond that, the Taoiseach said: “We have a job to do as a government. The opposition have their own role to play, but they’ll do it as responsibily as they can.”

When questioned about the kind of economic adjustment Ireland needs to make, Cowen said that as Taoiseach, he outlined in the meeting where he thinks the national interest lies. He said, “As I said in the House this morning, this data is being analysed by the Department of Finance as we speak,” and that data has yet to be signed off on by the minister.

The Taoiseach also said that “an election would set out more confusion than clarity at this time”. He said the parties were prepared for a constructive debate on the economy in the Dáil next week.

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