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Brian Lenihan announcing his FF leadership campaign earlier: Lenihan will now have to interrupt his campaign to organise the passage of the Finance Bill. Peter Morrison/AP
Finance Bill

Lenihan to hold immediate meetings on Finance Bill

The Finance Minister will meet with opposition finance spokespersons tomorrow to arrange a timetable for passing the bill.

FINANCE MINISTER BRIAN LENIHAN is to hold an emergency meeting with the finance spokespersons of opposition parties tomorrow morning in an attempt to outline a schedule for the passage for the Finance Bill.

Speaking after the Green Party announced it was pulling out of government – though it committed to supporting the Finance Bill from the opposition benches – Lenihan told RTÉ Radio 1 that he would invite the finance spokespersons of opposition parties to meet with him at the Department of Finance tomorrow morning to form a timetable for getting the Bill passed.

It now appears that the current Oireachtas timetable for the coming week will be shelved, and that the Finance Bill will be essentially the only item on the agenda of either House of the Oireachtas for the week to come.

Pat Rabbitte told RTÉ that Labour was willing to abandon its private members’ time in the Dáil for Tuesday and Wednesday evening – and the motion of no confidence in the government that went with it – if Fianna Fáil, as now the sole government party, was able to facilitate the passage of the bill through the Oireachtas by next weekend.

Labour would be willing to facilitate sittings of the Oireachtas on Friday and Saturday, Rabbitte implied, in order to facilitate its immediate enactment. He did not state for certain, however, whether the Labour Party would vote in favour of the Bill.

Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes, meanwhile, said the Greens had been in contact with Fine Gael in the last few days to sound out whether the party was willing to oblige in passing the Finance Bill by the end of the week.

Speaking at the Greens’ press conference earlier, Trevor Sargent said that all parties in the Dáil were in favour of having the motion passed; Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, however, has insisted that her party will not support having the Finance Bill sped through the Oireachtas as needed.

After the Greens’ statement, both Taoiseach Brian Cowen and finance minister Brian Lenihan said it would not be possible to have the Bill enacted as quickly as the opposition parties are demanding.

It is unclear whether Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty will be invited to meet with Lenihan tomorrow, as an opponent of the Bill; it is also unclear whether the meeting will involve the Green Party, whose former minister Eamon Ryan is likely to now act as a de facto finance spokesperson.

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