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Cowen set to lead FF into election unchallenged

Taoiseach says he intends to retain party leadership heading into next election, and appears to have the backing of his parliamentary colleagues.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BRIAN COWEN LOOKS set to lead Fianna Fail unchallenged into the next general election after receiving a strong endorsement from his parliamentary party colleagues yesterday.

Cowen announced his intentions to retain the leadership to the parliamentary party yesterday.

Following Cowen’s address, Government Chief Whip John Curran said 15 to 20 TDs who spoke at the meeting had backed Cowen, the Irish Times reports.

That support was voiced by Minister Mary Hanafin, who emerged from the meeting, saying: “The Taoiseach has come out fighting. From day one, I’ve said there is no heave and I’d have no part in a heave”.

However, the Irish Independent reports that she did point out that at some stage in the future, she intends to run for the leadership.

After the Budget was announced in the Dáil on Tuesday, Cowen told RTÉ that from his point of view, he would lead his party into the next election.

He said: “The only statement you will hear from me is that I’m determined get on with leading this Government. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved thus far in difficult circumstances”.

Asked by RTÉ Radio One the following lunchtime why he kept saying he was proud of his government’s achievements instead of apologising to the people of Ireland, the Taoiseach accused RTÉ of following a particular editorial line and said: “I’m regarded as arrogant if I defend myself”.

No date has been set for the election, but it is now expected to take place in March. The Green Party reportedly want an election as quickly as possible, but will remain in government until Budget legislation has been brought in.

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