Greens call for general election
Ireland is to hold a general election within two months after the Green Party stunned its Government partners by issuing a new year deadline for the vote.
Beleaguered Taoiseach Brian Cowen was dumped into a political crisis to match the economic chaos less than 24 hours after the Cabinet signed off on a multibillion bailout.
In a sensational twist, Green leader John Gormley signed the Government's death notice on day one of delicate negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe.
The Environment Minister demanded a general election by the second half of January as he lashed the spin machine behind the senior coalition partner Fianna Fail.
He accused strategists of last week ordering the Greens to toe an official line on how dire the Irish economic crisis had become.
"We were given an official line ... which was essentially a mixed message," he said.
The shock election deadline was set the day after Mr Gormley and Green communications minister Eamon Ryan sat with Cabinet colleagues for several hours working out how it would approach the IMF/EU for up to 90 billion euro in loans.
Relations in the coalition had degenerated so far the Taoiseach was only issued with the ultimatum minutes before the Greens made it public in Leinster House, Dublin.
The threat quickly prompted calls from the opposition and two Independent TDs for an election.
Alongside eight members of the Green Party, including TD Paul Gogarty and his young daughter Daisy, Mr Gormley said the past week was traumatic for the Irish people, claiming they felt misled and betrayed.