By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's Green Party, the junior government coalition partner, called on Monday for an election to be held in January and said it would pull out of government once a series of fiscal packages and budgets were in place.
"...we have now reached a point where the Irish people need political certainty to take them beyond the coming two months. So, we believe it is time to fix a date for a general election in the second half of January 2011," the Greens said in a statement.
They said they had told Prime Minister Brian Cowen, leader of coalition partner Fianna Fail, of their call for an election but stressed the party would remain in government until a program of austerity measures had been published, IMF and European support secured, and the 2011 budget passed.
"Leaving the country without a government while these matters are unresolved would be very damaging and would breach our duty of care," the party said.
Ireland's coalition government of Fianna Fail, the Greens and independent politicians has a wafer thin majority in parliament and its popularity has plummeted over its handling of the country's financial and economic crisis.
Cowen needs to pass Ireland's toughest budget on record on December 7. With a parliamentary majority of three. The six Greens in the lower house hold the balance of power.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Peter Graff)