LABOUR TDs have begun preparing for a general election, following last week's health-cuts fiasco, which has caused the most serious split in the Coalition since it took office.
Party chairman Colm Keaveney told the Sunday Independent yesterday that the "totally unacceptable" €130m cuts had pushed the Government closer to collapse.
Deep divisions have emerged over Health Minister James Reilly's cuts and his criticisms of the Croke Park agreement, which have greatly "destabilised" the Government, according to Mr Keaveney.
"It would be wrong not to prepare for a general election, given the political challenges that lie ahead in the coming year, starting with the Budget," he said.
Mr Keaveney's comments echo those of Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, who questioned whether the Government could "survive" December's Budget.
It has also emerged that a number of Labour TDs have already held meetings in order to be prepared for an election, which Mr Keaveney and others in Labour say is now "very probable".