DUBLIN (AP) — An Irish lawmaker has withdrawn support from Prime Minister Brian Cowen's government, diminishing his ability to win parliamentary votes and increasing the prospect of an early election in recession-battered Ireland.

Galway independent legislator Noel Grealish announced Friday he can no longer support Cowen because his government is giving tens of billions to debt-crippled banks. Grealish called this "intolerable when we have a health system that is on its knees."

The loss takes Cowen one vote closer to losing his already shaky majority in Ireland's parliament.

The next election isn't required until mid-2012 so long as Cowen can keep winning parliamentary votes. But most political analysts now expect Ireland to face an election by mid-2011 or sooner.