Taoiseach agrees to put memo to Dáil vote


THE DÁIL will vote next Wednesday on the memo of understanding on the joint EU-IMF programme for Ireland, following Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s agreement to a proposal at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting.

In a statement released after the meeting, Mr Cowen said he was “delighted” to support a motion proposed by backbenchers Michael McGrath of Cork South-Central and Thomas Byrne of Meath East.

The motion said subjecting the memo to Dáil approval would “add political legitimacy to the agreement and to force the Opposition to take a definitive position on the matter”.

Government Chief Whip John Curran denied there had been a U-turn in attitude to the vote, which had previously been called for by Opposition parties.

“The position remains exactly there same. There’s no legal imperative required to have that,” he said.

He said the motion put down by Mr McGrath and Mr Byrne would give the matter “a political dimension” which Mr Cowen agreed with and was “endorsed by the party unanimously”.

Asked what the purpose of the vote was, he said: “Members of the parliamentary party who contributed to the debate quite clearly said we’re setting out our stall and if others have a different position where they feel that the funds that the State need can be raised in a different way that’s their opportunity to put it forward.”

He said the Dáil schedule was being adjusted and anticipated the vote would take place on Wednesday of next week.

Meanwhile, Mr Curran confirmed Mr Cowen had expressed unhappiness with some comments members of the parliamentary party had made to media outlets.

“The Taoiseach obviously said that some comments in the media weren’t helpful to us. He’s very much a team player and this is about FF going into an election as a united team.”

A number of those present claimed Mr Cowen told the meeting: “Anyone who’s running down my Minister for Finance isn’t a friend of mine”. Many took this as a reference to Cork East deputy Ned O’Keeffe.

Mr Cowen told TDs and Senators they should attempt to expose inconsistencies in Opposition parties’ arguments when they appeared on local media.