Following a week of press conferences, confidence votes, resignations and about-turns, the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced that he will be stepping down as leader of his Fianna Fail party. Despite winning a leadership confidence vote at the beginning of the week, Mr Cowen’s subsequent attempts to reshuffle his cabinet were met with resignations from several ministers. The general election that he originally called for 11 March now looks likely to take place as early as February following the decision of the Green Party to withdraw its support from Fianna Fail, leaving the latter without a coalition partner and without a majority. Cowen’s continued presence as Prime Minister was described as ‘untenable’ and ‘farcical’ by commentators and concerns were raised that this political to-ing and fro-ing would put Ireland’s finance bill in jeopardy. Fortunately however, the bill has now been passed, as required by the €85bn bail out agreed with the EU and IMF back in November.