Timeline: the history of a coalition
Here is a timeline of some the major events in the life of the Fianna Fáil-Green Coalition:
May 2007: Fianna Fáil remains the largest party following the general election.
June 2007: The Greens enter Government for the first time as junior coalition partner, with the support of the Progressive Democrats and several Independent TDs. Bertie Ahern begins a third successive term as Taoiseach.
May 2008: Mr Ahern resigns after 11 years as Taoiseach over his financial affairs. He is the country’s second longest-serving Taoiseach after Fianna Fáil founder Eamon De Valera. Former minister for finance Brian Cowen takes his place.
June 2008: The Economic and Social Research Institute says Ireland is heading for its first recession since the days of high unemployment and emigration in the early 1980s. Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan tells construction industry conference that Ireland’s building boom was coming to a "shuddering end".
September 2008: An official economic report states Ireland is officially in recession. The Government announces a €440 billion State guarantee of all deposits in Irish financial firms.
January 2009: Anglo Irish Bank is nationalised because of share price collapse, massive losses, scandal of loans to directors and multi-billion deposit loan from rival lenders.
April 2009: Emergency Budget sets out €3.25 billion of tax rises and spending cuts.
June 2009: Support for both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party plummets in local and European elections.
September 2009: Green Party threatens to pull out of Coalition over the setting up of the National Assets Management Agency.
December 2009: Government publishes third Budget in 12 months with a €4 billion cuts package.
February 2010: Willie O'Dea resigns as minister for defence after he falsely denied linking a Sinn Féin councillor to a brothel. A week later, Green minister of state Trevor Sargent steps down over his interference in a criminal prosecution.
September 2010: Mr Cowen hits international headlines when he is forced to deny being drunk or hungover during a live morning radio interview the night after a Fianna Fáil conference.
October 2010: High Court orders Government, which is propped up by a number of Independents, to end an 18-month wait for the byelection in Donegal South West.
November 2010: Mr Cowen denies Ireland approached Europe for emergency funds. Within a week, the Republic accepts an €85 billon EU-MF bailout and the Greens call for a general election date to be set. The Government publishes its four-year plan setting out €15 billion in savings.
December 2010: The Government unveils Budget 2011, the most draconian in the history of the State.
Sunday, January 9th: Previously undisclosed contacts revealed between Mr Cowen and former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick in run-up to the introduction of the banking guarantee in September 2008. Mr Cowen insists the next day that no secret agenda lay behind a golf game and dinner and that there was nothing inappropriate in his contacts. Green Party leader John Gormley criticises his coalition colleague for not being more open.
Wednesday, January 12th: The Taoiseach reveals in Dáil the golf party was joined at dinner by Alan Gray, former managing partner of consultancy firm Indecon and appointed by him, when he was minister for finance, as Central Bank director in 2007. Also present was Gary McGann, Smurfit Kappa chief executive and member of Anglo board at the time.
Tuesday, January 18th: Mr Cowen survives a self-imposed vote of confidence in his leadership and his challenger Micheál Martin resigns as foreign affairs minister.
Wednesday, January 19th: Greens hold talks with the Taoiseach over timing of election. Independent Mary Harney resigns as health minister at 9pm. Mr Gormley later says he knew nothing about it until his wife Penny Stuart told him. Three other ministers - Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey and Tony Killeen - tender their resignations at 11pm. Mr Gormley hears about it on RTÉ’s news bulletin the following morning.
Thursday, January 20th: Mr Gormley telephones Mr Cowen after 7am over the affair as Batt O’Keeffe quits as minister for trade. Mr Cowen fails to appoint new ministers as Greens threaten walkout. The empty posts are later reassigned to existing ministers in embarrassing climbdown for Taoiseach. General election set for March 11th. Greens say they knew nothing of reshuffle attempt.
Saturday, January 22nd: Mr Cowen announces he is stepping down as Fianna Fáil leader but will remains at Taoiseach.
Sunday, January 23rd: The Green Party pulls out of government, stating it has lost patience with Fianna Fáil.