Speculation mounts regarding Mc Daid’s voting intentions

As final preparations are put in place for tomorrow's budget, speculation is focussing on how independent and non-aligned TDs will vote, with aignificant attention being paid to what Donegal North East TD Dr James Mc Daid will do.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is today meeting with former Progressive Democrat TD Noel Grealish to secure his support for the budget, while government Chief Whip Pat Carey has expressed confidence that independents including Tipperary North TD Michael Lowry will back the budget. A meeting is due to take place with South Kerry Deputy Jackie Healy Rae on the issue later.

The two Sligo backbenchers who resigned the whip - Jimmy Devins and Eamonn Scanlon are expected to back the government tomorrow.

In the case of Dr Mc Daid, last week, he threatened to vote against the budget if the concept of unpaid leave in lieu of public sector pay cuts was introduced. However, that idea has been rejected, suggesting that despite the recent deepening of the rift between himself and Fianna Fail, Dr Mc Daid will not oppose the government.