Belfast Telegraph

Upper house passes bailout Bill

The Seanad has passed the controversial Finance Bill which enacts billions of euros in cuts to bolster the republic's crippled economy.

The move clears the way for beleaguered Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who is no longer leader of his own party and who heads a minority government, to announce the dissolution of the Dail on Tuesday.

Mr Cowen will also confirm the date for a General Election to be held in four weeks' time, with competing parties already bitterly divided over the 85 billion euro bailout agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU).

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the Bill was an essential element of the recovery package agreed for the state.

But he attacked his former coalition partners, the Greens, whose decision to pull out of government had forced the crisis-hit leading party, Fianna Fail, to cobble together an agreement for the rapid passage of the legislation over the last week.

"Normally I would spend a week going through the Finance Bill when the officials had the necessary draft ready for me," he said.

"This year I was given a day.

"The country needed continuity of government in these few months. It didn't get it.

"And those who are responsible for not giving it will have to take the judgment of history on it."

Mr Lenihan rounded on the Labour Party and Sinn Fein and said their respective challenges to the Government's strategy did not stand up to scrutiny.

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