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Irish lawmakers to vote on EU-IMF bailout deal

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

 Ireland’s parliament is set to back the country’s 85-billion-euro (113-billion-dollar) EU-IMF bailout later Wednesday, but it will be a close vote, a key independent lawmaker said.


Joe Behan, a former member of Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s Fianna Fail party, told AFP on Tuesday that he expected the vote to be “extremely tight.”


“It could be passed by just two votes,” added Behan.


The bailout deal for crisis-hit Ireland comprises 67.5 billion euros in external loans and guarantees from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, with another 17.5 billion euros from the Irish government.

Irish police guard the front gate of the Irish Parliament building (Dail) in Dublin, Ireland, on December 7, 2010.

Lawmakers will vote later Wednesday at the Dail, or lower house of parliament, amid stubborn market worries over the eurozone debt crisis.


Cowen’s parliamentary party has called for the vote to “add political legitimacy to the agreement and to force the opposition to take a definitive position on the matter.”


Behan, now an independent lawmaker in the Wicklow constituency south of Dublin, has backed the government’s budget measures and will be voting for the deal.


The lawmaker, who resigned from Fianna Fail in 2008, added that he was “very, very sceptical” that the opposition would be able to negotiate a better bailout deal if they got into power.


Cowen has said opposition parties were still trying to make the public believe that there was “an easy way out” of the country’s funding crisis.


The vote would give them the opportunity “to either come clean, recognise that this deal is essential and in the best interests of the country, or spell out their alternative,” he argued.


But Cowen’s personal standing has plummeted to just eight percent in the polls and support for his party is also down sharply: it is at 13 percent compared to the 42 percent backing it received in the 2007 general election.


Judging from the polls, it is facing a drubbing when the country holds elections again early next year.


Ireland’s opposition parties — who have already voted against the government’s annual 2011 budget — have said they will also reject the EU-IMF memorandum of understanding on the bailout.


Dr James Reilly, deputy leader of the main opposition Fine Gael party, described the decision to vote on the bailout as a “political stunt” to deflect attention from the dismal nature of the deal.


Fianna Fail had initially refused to hold a Dail vote on the deal, he said. “Now they can’t wait to have one. The only thing that has changed is Brian Cowen’s need to keep his restive backbenchers happy.


“Fine Gael has already made it quite clear that we regard the IMF-EU bailout package as a most incompetent piece of negotiation.


“It makes no sense for Fine Gael to support a vote on a bailout which we intend to renegotiate. Such a move would only weaken the ability of a Fine Gael Government to renegotiate the deal after an election,” Reilly said.


But government chief whip John Curran was confident the bailout will be endorsed with the help of independent lawmakers.

“Yes, I do believe that the government will have the numbers to pass this motion without the support of the opposition,” he said in a statement.

The IMF’s executive board has decided to delay consideration of the rescue plan for Ireland until after Wednesday’s vote.

Source: SGGP

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