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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Niall Carson/PA Wire
No early election, as Oireachtas set for five-week Christmas holiday
The provisional calendar schedules the Dáil to finish for Christmas on December 16, and not return until January 19.

HOPES OF A GENERAL ELECTION as early as February seem to have been dashed by the news that the Houses of the Oireachtas expects to take a five-week Christmas recess.

A spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas confirmed to this afternoon that the provisional calendar for the houses scheduled the Christmas break to start on Thursday December 16, with TDs and Senators returning to duty on Wednesday January 19 – 35 days later.

Though the government has pledged to introduce the Social Welfare Bill (one of the two pieces of legislation that gives legal effect to the government) and have it in the week after the Budget is introduced, it seems almost impossible for any legislative progress to be made on the Finance Bill, which also needs to be passed before the Budget is deemed to have been finalised.

With Brian Cowen saying he will call an election once the Budget is totally enacted – which now almost certainly won’t happen until the last week of January at the very earliest, the chances of a general election before the end of February seem very slim.

The Oireachtas spokesman stressed, however, that the calendar was provisional and that votes would need to take place in both the Dáil and Seanad to confirm their respective Christmas breaks.

A full decision on whether to extend Oireachtas business into Christmas week will likely be made after the Budget is announced.