Irish government faces no-confidence vote after losing formal majority

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Ireland's (Prime Minister) Taoiseach Micheal Martin looks on during a news conference at the Grand Central Hotel after speaking to Northern Ireland party leaders regarding issues surrounding the Northern Ireland protocol and power sharing impasse, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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DUBLIN, July 8 (Reuters) - Ireland's main opposition party, Sinn Fein, said it will table a motion of no confidence in the government next Tuesday, testing the ruling coalition after it lost its formal majority in parliament earlier this week.

A member of the centre-right Fine Gael resigned the party whip on Wednesday after voting against a bill introduced by the government - which also includes Prime Minister Micheal Martin's centre-right Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

It leaves the coalition with 79 seats in the 160-seat lower house. However, some of the other lawmakers that have left the government over the last two years continue to back it in major votes, along with sympathetic independent deputies. read more

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With Sinn Fein also way ahead of any other party in opinion polls, those aligned with the government are unlikely to vote to topple it and bring forward elections that are scheduled for 2025.

"This is a government that has now lost its parliamentary majority, and is failing to tackle the cost of living and housing crises," Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, whose party has never been in government in the Republic of Ireland, said in a statement.

"It is time to make way for a government that will put workers and families first."

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he was very confident the government would win the vote, pointing out that it passed the contentious bill that his colleague resigned over this week by four votes.

"I think we will have a strong working majority and that will be clear this week," Coveney told national broadcaster RTE.

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Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Toby Chopra

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