Belfast Telegraph

Seanad set to debate Finance Bill

The Seanad is expected to finish debating the Finance Bill ahead of the dissolution of the Dail on Tuesday.

The legislation may be referred back to the Dail if Senators recommend changes.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Brian Cowen has revealed he will spend the weekend discussing his future plans with family and advisers amid speculation he is preparing to retire.

Mr Cowen said he wanted to address the Dail before calling the election.

"It will give me the opportunity to say some things before we do that," he said. "It's really a question of using the Dail as the appropriate forum for that announcement."

In a morning interview with Raidio na Gaeltachta, Mr Cowen said he would take the weekend to decide his future, with a selection convention for his Laois/Offaly constituency planned for Tuesday night.

The Finance Bill passed all stages in the Dail this week when independents Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae secured last-minute changes after they threatened to jettison the legislation.

As debate continued in the Seanad on Friday, opposition senators hit out at the Government over the tough budget measures, with Fine Gael's Jerry Buttimer saying the Bill was Fianna Fail's legacy to the country. "That of gargantuan tax increases, huge unemployment, thousands of people emigrating and a failed political legacy," he said.

Party colleague Senator Liam Twomey took a swipe at newly elected Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, who has repeatedly apologised for Government mistakes on the economy. "Minister Martin reminds me of some sort of two-timing eejit," Senator Twomey said.

"Everybody knows the type. Constantly fooling around on his long-suffering girlfriend. Constantly saying sorry and that it will never happen again. This time what he doesn't realise is that she's thrown him out for good. And this is the way the people of Ireland feel about the manipulation by this Government."

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