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Irish PM sets general election for March 11

01-21-2011 07:37 BJT

DUBLIN, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced Thursday a general election will take place on March 11.

In an address to the Dail, the lower house of the country's parliament, he confirmed there would be no cabinet reshuffle.

The portfolios held by those ministers who have resigned will now be reassigned to the remaining members of the cabinet, he said.

He rejected the Labor Party's accusation that he was engaging in a stunt regarding the ministerial resignation, saying the truth was far from that.

Cowen said he would go to the country with a strong front bench line-up on March 11, adding that the election was about the future of the country.

Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Innovation Batt O'Keeffe tendered his resignation from cabinet Thursday, while Mary Harney, Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey and Tony Killeen gave their letters of resignation to the prime minister late Wednesday evening. Former Foreign Minister Micheal Martin resigned his portfolio on Tuesday after a confidence motion in Cowen's leadership.

Cowen also announced President Mary McAleese had accepted the resignations of those ministers. The prime minister paid tribute to their work and confirmed O'Keeffe would not be contesting the election.

He has reassigned the following government portfolios: Department of Health and Children to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan; Department of Transport to the Minister for Community, Equalilty and Gaeltact Affairs, Pat Carey; Department of Justice and Law Reform to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith; Department of Trade, Enterprise and Innovation to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Mary Hanafin; Department of Defense to Minister for Social Protection, Eamon O'Cuiv.

Meanwhile, opposition parties welcomed Cowen's election announcement.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said he was looking forward to the campaign. However, he said Thursday morning's confusion about the ministerial resignations showed disrespect to the Dail.

Earlier, the Dail was suspended after opposition parties condemned the way the government was handling the situation. Opposition parties called for Cowen to make a statement to the Dail on the resignations and to name their replacements.



Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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