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The Dail numbers game: Crippled Taoiseach now totally reliant on opposition for votes

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen now leads a minority Government utterly reliant on the support of the extended opposition to pass the Finance Bill.

Mr Cowen would not survive a motion of no confidence in either the Government or the Taoiseach himself.

The Green Party's six TDs are committed to voting with the Government on the Finance Bill from the opposition benches. But Greens leader John Gormley would not say what would happen if a motion of no confidence was tabled by Fine Gael or the Labour Party.

The Government is now down to just 75 TDs, made up of 71 FF TDs and four Independents (Mary Harney, Michael Lowry, Jackie Healy-Rae and Jimmy Devins) -- well short of a majority. Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk is not included as a government figure as he is the independent chairman of the Dail. But Mr Kirk could be relied upon to vote with the Government in the event of a tie.

The opposition now officially comprises:

  • 51 Fine Gael TDs;
  • 21 Labour Party TDs;
  • 6 Green Party TDs;
  • 5 Sinn Fein TDs;
  • 4 Independents -- former Fianna Fail TD Joe Behan, former PD TD Noel Grealish, Finian McGrath and Maureen O'Sullivan. Three seats are vacant due to resignations in Dublin South, Waterford and Donegal North East.

Irish Independent