Roth sends in two articles on the collapse of the Irish government.
The Independent reports Irish government falls and calls 11 March poll
David McKittrick, Independent, Jan. 21, 2011, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/irish-government-falls-and-calls-11-march-poll-2190335.html
The Irish Government collapsed yesterday, with multiple ministerial resignations propelling Prime Minister Brian Cowen into setting 11 March as the date for a general election. His Fianna Fail party, which dominates the government, is widely expected to be largely wiped out in the contest, since under the Cowen leadership it has slumped to unprecedented depths in opinion polls.
In recent months he was damaged by “Garglegate”, when he was judged to have performed badly in a morning radio interview after a late night of drinking with journalists and others. Next came “Golfgate” when we learnt that as finance minister he had played golf and had dinner with the banker Sean Fitzpatrick, regarded as possibly Ireland’s most toxic figure, since he above all others is blamed for the economic disaster.
Many Fianna Fail members of the Dail, the Irish parliament, have announced they are not standing again, because they are unlikely to be re-elected or because they realise they will face years in opposition.
The election was precipitated during a day of turmoil after the small Green party, which has kept Fianna Fail in power, called for a contest in March. Four Fianna Fail ministers, plus a long-time supporter, then announced their resignations. In what is viewed in Dublin as an extraordinary move, Mr Cowen then redistributed their portfolios with some of his remaining ministers taking on extra responsibilities. Mary Hanafin, for example, has become Minister for Trade, Enterprise, Innovation, Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Fianna Fail has traditionally been the largest in the Irish Republic but recently hit a record low of 13 per cent in the opinion polls.
This has led to predictions that Fianna Fail could drop from more than 70 seats to fewer than 20, a result which would represent a seismic change in Ireland’s political patterns. There are certainly obvious signs of a widespread loss of public confidence in Fianna Fail. A disaffected backbencher said recently: “The people just don’t trust us. We got arrogant and got disconnected and wouldn’t listen. The people are very angry and you can’t blame them.”
Yahoo! News reports Irish premier sets early election for March 11
Shawn Pogatchnik, Yahoo News, Jan. 20, 2011 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110120/ap_on_re_eu/eu_ireland_government_shuffle
Cowen’s Fianna Fail party has fallen to record-low levels of support after leading the country from the Celtic Tiger boom to the edge of national bankruptcy. Adding to the sense of chaos, the prime minister managed to bring his own administration to the brink of collapse Thursday through an ill-calculated bid to inject his Cabinet with fresh blood.
Five ministers — a third of Cowen’s Cabinet — resigned from the departments of defense, justice, health, transport and trade between Wednesday night and Thursday morning because they were not planning to seek re-election. Cowen hoped to promote five new lawmakers in their place to boost their pre-election profiles.
But the gambit provoked fury in parliament and a backlash from Cowen’s coalition partners in government, the environmentalist Green Party. Cowen spent the morning pleading with the Greens to back the election of the new Cabinet ministers but they refused and demanded that he set an election date.
When Cowen finally appeared in parliament, he appointed five current Cabinet ministers to take on the additional departments for the next few weeks before parliament is dissolved in mid-February. The move avoided the need for a parliamentary vote that Cowen was sure to lose.
Fianna Fail lawmakers expressed dismay that their leader hadn’t seen the Green opposition coming.
“I’m really infuriated by what’s happened. … Whatever his great plan was, it has totally backfired,” said Fianna Fail lawmaker Tom Kitt. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Ireland has nationalized four of the six Irish-owned banks and repaid tens of billions to foreign bondholders. It spent two years trying to fund the bank bailouts itself, but the cost drove Ireland’s 2010 deficit to 32 percent of gross domestic product and forced the country to negotiate a euro67.5 billion ($91 billion) bailout loan with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
So far Ireland has received euro5 billion ($6.7 billion) of those funds. The two opposition parties expected to win the March 11 election and form the next coalition government, Fine Gael and Labour, have pledged to reopen negotiations with the EU and IMF.