29 Jan 2011

Irish parliament to be dissolved

11:38 am on 29 January 2011

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen will move to dissolve parliament on Tuesday and announce the date for a general election.

A finance bill, the last piece of legislation underpinning the 2011 budget, was cleared through parliament on Thursday. It has now moved to the upper house, the Senate, for approval.

Last weekend, Mr Cowen stepped down as leader of Fianna Fail, but said he would continue running the government.

On Wednesday, former foreign minister Micheal Martin was elected as the new leader of the party.

Fianna Fail has slumped massively in the polls amid Ireland's financial crisis.

The finance bill was Ireland's final legislative commitment under a rescue package worth 85 billion euro ($US113 billion) from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Earlier this month Mr Cowen announced an election date of 11 March. However, the BBC reports it is now likely to take place in February.