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Irish Taoiseach (PM) Micheal Martin has instructed TDs (members of parliament) from his centrist Fianna Fail party to back Foreign Minister Simon Coveney in an upcoming confidence vote in the lower house of Ireland's parliament.

  • The Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party brought the motion of no confidence against Coveney - who hails from the centre-right Fine Gael party - earlier this week, alleging cronyism on the part of the minister in a bungled attempt to appoint former independent senator Katherine Zappone to a position at the UN.
  • Martin has threatened his TDs with a six-month suspension from the parliamentary FF party if they do not vote in favour of Coveney.
  • Fianna Fail and Fine Gael - historically Ireland's two dominant parties and political adversaries - govern in a power-sharing agreement, with FG head Leo Varadkar due to take over as Taoiseach before the end of the year.
  • The governing agreement remains fractious, with no guarantee that it will survive the planned transition of power. Being forced to back an under-pressure FG minister will not sit well with many FF TDs, who can see their party trailing a distant third in opinion polling behind FG and Sinn Fein in first place.
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-0981 |

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