Irish Prime Minster Brian Cowen has called an Irish election for March 11th.
Speaking to a packed parliament, Cowen stated that he was reassigning six cabinet portfolios after six of his ministers resigned.
His comments ended a day of mounting chaos in the parliament as it became clear that the Green Party were preventing the Fianna Fail party from replacing the minsters who resigned .
Opposition leader Enda Kenny of Fine Gael said he was delighted there was finally an air of finality because of the naming of an election date.
Minister of State Conor Lenihan called for the Taoiseach’s resignation. Lenihan said that the developments over the past 24 hours meant that those who voted for a motion of confidence Cowen on Tuesday have now changed their minds. He urged senior ministers to act urgently.
The proceedings in Irish Parliament had been suspended as opposition leaders refused to move forward until Prime Minister Brian Cowen explained the six recent ministerial resignations.
Rumors of an impending collapse of the government and an immediate election were circulating as the Green Party met to decide whether they would withdraw support for the government.
Earlier today parliament was suspended after rowdy scenes. Opposition leader, Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny demanded that proceeding be suspended until Cowen could explain what was going on within the Government.
Kenny said “This is the worst government in history…This would not have happened even in the days of great dictators. It is unprecedented, what you have done.”
He continued “These are the last days of the worst government in the history of the state.”
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keefe tendered his resignation this morning. Wednesday saw Mary Harney from Health, Dermot Ahern from Justice, Noel Dempsey from transport and Tony Killeen from defense all resigned. These followed the resignation of Micheal Martin from foreign affairs who resigned after a failed leadership challenge.
Kenny said that the actions of Cowen had been a “cowardly, disgraceful act” and said he was “refusing to come in here today to tell the people of his country what is happening with a Government that has imploded, with a Government that is dysfunctional, that has disintegrated, and that had let our people down”.
Similarly Eamon Gilmore, Labour party leader, said “What is happening here this morning is disrespectful of the people of this country…There is some Kind of political cynical exercise in last-minute jobbery being hatched by this Government.”
John Gormley, the Green party leader, spoke with Cowen about the resignations. The Green party are understood be by frustrated over the departures. Gormley is expect to discuss the matter later today in parliament.
The Green Party, who had asked in November that an election take place in January, yesterday said that it would take place no later than March. March 11 th has now been designated.