The Irish government has lost its authority to govern and must respond to the clear verdict of voters, Opposition parties told the Dail yesterday.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said almost three quarters of the Irish people rejected Coalition parties in last weekend's local and European elections.
Mr Kenny's party won more support in a national election than Fianna Fail for the first time in its history.
Tabling a motion of no confidence in the Dail, Mr Kenny told the sometimes heated debate: “It was an historic day in many ways because it broke the dominance of the Fianna Fail party in Irish politics for the first time in 77 years and made this party, which I have the honour to lead, the largest party in all three elections.
“I put it to the Taoiseach that if he has any respect for the Irish people, who he leads politically, he will accept that following Friday's disaster for his government, including his Green Party colleagues, he has no mandate or authority to continue in government and that he and his colleagues are deluding themselves if they believe they are losing support because they have faced tough decisions,” he said.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the government had the majority of the Dail and its authority to govern was valid.
Attacking the negativity of the Opposition parties, he added: “A government would be in dereliction of its duty were it not to take whatever measures are necessary to bring about a sustainable path for our public finances. We do that not because we are aligned to any particular economic ideological philosophy but because it is fundamental to the recovery of this country.”
Sinn Fein's Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said voters had overwhelmingly rejected Fianna Fail and the Greens in the local, European and Dublin by-elections.