THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE has been meeting with Fianna Fáil backbench TDs who have grown increasingly disquiet about the leadership of Brian Cowen and who may be keen to install a new party leader ahead of an inevitable general election.
The Irish Times’ Miriam Lord reports that Brian Lenihan was seen having a rather “intense conversation” with a number of backbench TDs, all of whom are known to be opponents of Brian Cowen’s leadership of the party, after yesterday’s sessions in the Dáil.
The TDs included former junior ministers John McGuinness and Tom Kitt, as well as Noel Treacy, Tom Kitt and Seán Fleming. Lord notes that the members would “not be seen as paid-up members of the Brian Cowen fan club.”
McGuinness, who launches his autobiography this morning, has previously offered vocal dissent at the leadership of Cowen, and his book is expected to launch a stinging rebuke on Cowen’s leadership of the party.
Tom Kitt, meanwhile, announced he would retiring from politics at the next election after Cowen demoted him from Chief Whip in his cabinet reshuffle two years ago, and has since then also been an outspoken critic of the party leadership.
Most of the TDs Lord mentions are known to be in support of any move to replace Cowen as the party’s leader, though they were not keen to replace him without precipitating a new general election.
Now that the scale of this December’s Budget cuts has become more clear, however, and with the Donegal South-West by-election now to be held in three weeks’ time, the onset of a general election has become a more likely prospect, potentially giving Cowen’s opponents an ideal opportunity to trigger another heave against him.
Separately yesterday rumours began to gain traction on Twitter that Taoiseach Brian Cowen was to announce his resignation on RTÉ’s Six One news last night, though such rumours proved unfounded.