The New Year is poised to start just as badly as 2010 finished for the beleaguered Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition government, as opposition parties are poised to table a no confidence motion against the coalition when the Dail (Parliament) returns from its holiday recess.Sources from both the Labor Party and Fine Gael told “The Irish Times” that a general election must be called sooner rather than later, with a Labor insider pointing out that since the Green Party had called for an election by the end of January, a no confidence motion would be put forth at that time if the coalition still remains intact at that time.

It is thought that an election will be held sometime in March, as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen says that passage of the Finance Bill won’t happen until late February.  At that point he would dissolve the government, and an election would take place 18 to 25 days later.

However, Labor Party leader Eamon Gilmore wants to quicken the pace of events, and said before Christmas that if the Finance Bill did not pass within two weeks of the new Dail sessison that begins on January 12, he would “put the issue to the test in the House.”

A Labor source told the “Times,” “It is clear from Eamon Gilmore’s comments that if, by the end of January, the government hasn’t enacted the Finance Bill and given a specific date for the election, we will move a motion of no confidence.”

Though the Green Party stands by its November declaration by party leader John Gormley that a general election should be held at the end of January, a source said that passage of the Finance Bill must take precedence.

“We stated a preference for late January. We also made it clear that we were committed to passing . . . legislation to underpin the budget, and we made it clear that a reasonable delay need not be a major problem,” said the source.

The Finance Bill contains the key budgetary cutbacks that underpinned the International Monetary Fund-EU takeover of Irish finances in the wake of the catastrophic collapse of the Irish banking sector.