Embattled Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said that he intends to dissolve parliament and call a general election for March 11.

Cowen, who won a confidence vote of the ruling Fianna Fail party yesterday, addressed parliament after five ministers resigned from the cabinet.

Foreign Minister, Micheal Martin, who strongly opposed Cowen’s leadership, was among those who resigned from the government.

Speculation is also running rampant about the future of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. Despite making statements in support of Cowen, Lenihan has been suspected of fomenting dissent with Fianna Fail.

Cowen and Lenihan have both been widely blamed by the Irish public (as well as opposition leaders) for Ireland's deep financial troubles and for having accepted a huge bailout from the EU and IMF which imposes severe terms and conditions.