Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has told Brian Cowen he may support the government's "emergency budget" -- but only if the Taoiseach sacks eight of his junior ministers.
Though the Taoiseach has steadfastly refused to support a cut in the number of junior ministers, the atmosphere in Leinster House was so feverish last week that one junior minister announced that "the Taoiseach is going to sack five of us".
"Mr Cowen needs to learn that generosity is a two-way street,'' Mr Kenny told the Sunday Independent, indicating that he might support the budget if some of its own reforms are implemented.
Last week, Fine Gael launched a series of proposals for Dail reform which included the axing of eight junior ministerial posts, ending special payments to the chairmen, vice chairmen and convenors of Dail Committees and ending the "scandal" of serving TDs also receiving ministerial pensions.
"These proposals are simple examples of the sort of practical patriotism and national leadership the people on the streets are crying out for,'' said Mr Kenny. He said that his proposals were only part of a "far longer list of FG proposals that I would expect FF to support".
"If the government are sincere over their talk about reform, generosity and shoulders to the wheel, they will accept these proposals."
Mr Kenny also said that he was "taken aback" by support for these proposals among Fine Gael deputies, even though some of them would also be big losers.