Main opposition party Fine Gael have claimed that recent announcements of retirement by some Fianna Fáil ministers are acts of 'unprecedented cowardice.’

Fine Gael party spokesman on justice, Alan Shatter, has said these ministers were 'intent on securing for themselves maximum financial benefit for their time in public life.'

So far two ministers, Noel Dempsey and Dermot Ahern have announced their retirement but more are expected. Ministers retiring will earn lump sums next year as high as $450,000.

“It seems a decreasing number intend to stand before the electorate to be judged on their time in Government. Instead we are seeing a stampede to retirement of a succession of Fianna Fáil former and current Ministers and an assortment of formerly ambitious backbenchers intent on securing for themselves maximum financial benefit for their time in public life," he said.

"If Brian Cowen had a remaining vestige of political decency and integrity, he would announce a halt to all Government appointments until a new Government was elected to office," he added, calling for the prime minister to dissolve the parliament next month in order for a General Election to take place.

“We are witnessing Fianna Fáil and Green Ministers in the dying days of this Government, engaged in an orgy of unaccountable appointments to posts in State agencies and bodies of friends and supporters. This Government is rapidly resembling the madhatter’s tea party, “ said Shatter.

"It is very much a spectacle of the Fianna Fáil failers abandoning the sinking Fianna Fáil ship."

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