Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach denies clinging to power

Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen has been accused of clinging to power after he refused to bring forward next month's Budget and the new year general election.

Under enormous pressure within parliament and his own party to resign, a subdued Mr Cowen dismissed calls to scrap the timetable for a deal on the 90 billion euro bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe.

"There is no question, the characterisation of clinging to office, being my motivation. That is not my motivation," the Taoiseach said.

"My sole motivation is to ensure that the four-year plan is published, as agreed with the people with whom we are dealing, and that a budget is passed by the House, put to the House."

The Government will publish its four-year economic recovery plan on Wednesday afternoon in central Dublin detailing the headlines on 15 billion euro savings over the next three years.

Budget 2011 is due on Tuesday December 7 and, along with the 2014 roadmap, the documents are expected to pave the way for social welfare cuts, reductions in the 8.65 euro minimum wage and new or increased taxes.

Europe's Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, who agreed to the timetable, suggested he wanted to see the Budget sooner rather than later.

Later, following a Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting, Government chief whip John Curran said a number of people raised Mr Cowen's leadership.

He said the Taoiseach stressed that he had a job to do and he was focused on what needed to be done.

"But the overwhelming number of people who spoke in relation to the leadership issue were absolutely supportive of the Taoiseach," Mr Curran said.

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