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Election due after deal struck

Irish voters look set for a general election on Friday, February 25, after the minority Government and main opposition parties struck a deal to put Budget 2011 into law.

After more than an hour of crunch talks, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan revealed all parliamentary business would be cleared for the week to fast-track the Finance Bill.

"I think it's a good day's work. I think it's important for the country that we are seen to unite," he said.

The Dail will review the legislation for three days from Tuesday before it goes to the Seanad, where further amendments can be made.

Mr Lenihan warned that the Government - left in a minority after the Greens withdrew support on Sunday - will face a motion of no confidence if the Bill is not signed into law by next Tuesday.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is expected to dissolve the Dail any time between Saturday and Tuesday with a general election to be held within 18-25 days, excluding Sundays and holidays.

The main opposition parties, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens, had heaped pressure on the Taoiseach and Mr Lenihan to set down a speedy timetable or face the prospect of being voted out of power.

But Sinn Fein refused to back the plan, and spokesman Pearse Doherty claimed his party was asked to leave round table talks in the Department of Finance only to refuse and sit in silence after lashing out at the government-opposition consensus.

Green TD Eamon Ryan said it was time for national politics, not party politics, and new reforms on the tax status of couples in civil partnerships, championed by the Greens, have been abandoned in order to fast-track the Finance Bill.

Labour's Joan Burton said her party's no confidence motion had been deferred until next week, and she said she believed the election will be held on February 25.


From Belfast Telegraph