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Dail live: Taoiseach addresses the Dail

Taoiseach Brian Cowen addresses the Dail this afternoon after rowdy scenes, caused by the recent Cabinet resignations, led to normal business being suspended this morning.

There were angry scenes in the Dail after reports spread that Batt O'Keefe, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, had resigned from Cabinet.

The Government has been hit by resignations from Mary Harney from health, Dermot Ahern from justice, Mr Dempsey from transport and Tony Killeen from defence in the last 24 hours, following Micheal Martin's departure from foreign affairs after a failed leadership challenge.

Normal business in the Dail was suspended until 1.30pm following rowdy scenes after the Opposition demanded the Taoiseach come into the House and clarify who is in charge of the six departments.

Fianna Fail's junior partner in Government, the Green Party, are understood to be frustrated over the sudden departures.

John Gormley, Green leader and Environment Minister, spoke to Mr Cowen about the Cabinet vacancies this morning.

Mr Gormley then met with the Greens' Parliamentary Party to discuss the latest developments.

Green Party backbencher Paul Gogarty wrote on Twitter a short while ago, "Green PP [Parliamentary Party] meeting now re proposed job for boys appointments. Expect collective decision soon. Then it's up to Taoiseach to see sense or go."

The Greens said in November they wanted a date for the election to be announced in the last two weeks of January. They warned yesterday the date should be no later than March.

The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, has demanded the proceedings be suspended until the Taoiseach explains what is happening in Government.

"This is the worst government in history," Mr Kenny said.

"This would not have happened even in the days of great dictators. It is unprecedented, what you have done."

He added: "These are the last days of the worst government in the history of the state."

Mr Kenny accused the Taoiseach of a "cowardly, disgraceful act" and that 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".

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore claimed the affair was unprecedented and eccentric.

"What is happening here this morning is disrespectful of the people of this country," Mr Gilmore said.

"There is some some kind of political cynical exercise in last-minute jobbery being hatched by this Government."

Online Editors