Sunday, 30 January 2011
Friday, 28 January 2011
Irish PM to dissolve parliament on Tuesday
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said on Friday he would dissolve parliament next Tuesday and announce the date of a general election -- in which the ruling Fianna Fail party is expected to suffer a heavy defeat.Skip related content
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Cowen's announcement will mark the end of his tumultuous time as premier, during which he was criticised for mishandling a financial crisis that sent shockwaves across the euro zone and forced the former "Celtic Tiger" economy to seek a bailout.
Cowen had promised to dissolve parliament once the finance bill, the last piece of legislation underpinning the 2011 budget, had passed both houses of parliament, paving the way for an election probably on February 25.
The lower house passed the finance bill on Thursday and it has now moved to the Senate, or upper house, for approval.
"The Dail (lower house) is due to resume on Tuesday next and I have indicated that I believe that that is the appropriate forum for me to advise the Dail that I will seek the dissolution of the house by going to the president on that day," Cowen told national broadcaster RTE.
The bill's passage means Ireland will meet its goal, under the 85 billion euro ($116 billion) EU/IMF deal agreed late last year, of delivering a record austerity budget by the end of March targeting 6 billion euros in spending cuts and tax rises.
This will incense voters, who already have years of austerity under their belts after a property bubble and reckless lending by the banking sector left the country with a massive debt and one of the biggest budget deficits in Europe.
The new government is likely to be a coalition between the centre-right Fine Gael party and centre-left Labour, which will have to abide by fiscal commitments given to the EU and IMF, as well as impose austerity budgets for the next few years.
Opinion polls suggest Fianna Fail, which elected former foreign minister Micheal Martin party leader earlier this week to replace Cowen, could lose at least half its seats in the election.
In an interview with Reuters, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said he did not expect a change of administration to affect Ireland's commitment to its targets, given that all the major parties have agreed to the overall commitments.
Enda Kenny, Fine Gael's leader and likely future prime minister, met European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels on Friday to discuss what he has described as the "penal" interest rate on the bailout.
After the meeting, Michael Noonan, who is likely to become finance minister in a new Irish government, said: "It's manageable now but if the interest rate were to come down it would increase our potential for growth."
"European policy on these matters is changing quite rapidly," he said, adding that he would consider writing public borrowing limits into Irish law.
Commenting on possible losses for bondholders in Irish banks, he said it was not his intention to "burn out anybody."
Two euro zone sources said on Friday that EU officials are considering extending euro zone bailout loans to Ireland to 30 years from seven. Maturities for EU bailout funds to Greece might also be extended in the hope of drawing a line under the bloc's debt crisis, they said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Investors remain sceptical about Ireland's ability to service its debt because of its low economic growth rate, even when a more stable government is in place after the election and with the tough budget taking effect.
(Additional reporting by John O'Donnell in Brussels and Padraic Halpin, editing by David Stamp)
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
'YES FOR WALES' REMAINS LEAD CAMPAIGN
Following the Electoral Commission's confirmation that there would be no official lead Referendum campaigns, 'Yes For Wales' Chair Roger Lewis announced that 'Yes For Wales' had been endorsed as thede facto lead organisation campaigning for a 'Yes' vote in the Referendum on 3rd March.
Roger Lewis said:
"'Yes For Wales' represents a broadcoalition of thousands of people acrossWales, while the 'No' side has no recognised leadership, made up of fragmented opinion from UKIP to the Monster Raving Loony Party.
"All the main political parties and officially-registered 'Yes' campaign organisations have today re-affirmed their collective support for 'Yes For Wales', because they believe that a single organisation providing a clear, positive message will help people better understand the issues.
"As the Electoral Commission makes clear, 'Yes for Wales' meets the criteria for designation and we intend to behave as the representative campaigning all-Wales body between now and the referendum on March 3rd."
Roger Lewis also issued a challenge to broadcasters about the way they now cover both sides of the referendum debate, saying:
"'Yes' campaigners will all continue to work together through 'Yes for Wales' to present a consistent message and to work with the media, but there is no recognised lead for the 'No' campaign, so no single group should be treated with any sort of priority over other fringe parties campaigning for a No vote. Each group has the right to parity, even if their diverse opinions don't help clarity."
The reaffirmation of 'Yes For Wales' position as leader of the 'Yes' campaign followed the decision earlier today by the Electoral Commission not to designate a lead campaign organisation for either the Yes or No campaigns in the forthcoming referendum on Assembly powers on March 3rd.
Commenting on the joint statement Paul O'Shea, Cymru/Wales Secretary of Unison and one of the Planning Group of 'Yes For Wales', said:
"The unity of the Yes campaign is one of our greatest strengths and sits as a sharp contrast to the shambolic and fragmented nature of our opponents in this referendum.
"'Yes For Wales' wanted to be designated as the official 'Yes' campaign. It matters to us that people are engaged with this debate, regardless of which way they decide to vote. Without a national mailing with literature from both sides, engagement is clearly more difficult. But not impossible - at least not impossible for us.
"'Yes For Wales' will continue to behave as if we had been designated. We will get our literature out by hand. We have thousands of volunteers across Wales and our objective is now to get something through the door of every elector in Walesbetween now and March 3rd. We're doing this because democracy matters to us.
"Yes, this is a big and bold initiative, but we think it is feasible. Because 'Yes For Wales' is a mass movement. We have the critical mass of people that can take the message out there, and we're doing so. That's what a true grassroots movement can achieve, unlike True Wales, UKIP, or any of the other No groups."