The Irish government has been plunged into chaos as the junior coalition Green Party pulled out over the dramatic resignation of Taoiseach Brian Cowen as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party.
John Gormley, leader and Environment Minister, said his party had lost patience with Fianna Fail and could no longer continue in government.
Mr Cowen bowed to pressure to quit as party leader after an epic week of political chaos, but the Taoiseach vowed to stay on as head of the coalition government until the March 11 general election.
Mr Gormley said he believed an election was absolutely necessary. "The Irish people have begun to lose confidence in politics and in the political process," he said.
"They have watched aghast the conduct in Dail Eireann (Irish parliament) of political parties. The Irish people expect and deserve better."