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Brian Lenihan and Brian Cowen addressed the press from the steps of Government Buildings after a pre-Budget meeting.
Heave

"I have the full support of all my colleagues" - Cowen

With Brian Lenihan at his side, the Taoiseach says he’s not “on probation” and that heave rumours are not behind bond spikes.

BRIAN COWEN has insisted he is not “a Taoiseach on probation” – and that he has the full support of his parliamentary colleagues – at a press conference this evening.

Speaking on the steps of Government Buildings after a meeting with finance minister Brian Lenihan, who stood alongside him, Cowen said that “the people want to see the government get on with its work” and that he had “the full support of all my colleagues” as he led the government’s efforts to rescue the economy.

In a hastily-arranged press conference dominated by Fianna Fáil’s internal woes, Cowen insisted that ”Ireland must, and will, demonstrate to the wider world not only that we’re open for business, but that we’re well on our way to a sustainable recovery.”

“I have the full support of all my colleagues,” he said. “I’m grateful for that… we have a job of work to do. The people want to see the government get on with its work. We know that there are big challenges facing our country.

“I think that from our point of view, that’s the focus of our work. That’s the focus of our attention.”

Cowen also brushed off questions pertaining to Tom Kitt’s demands for a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party to discuss the party leadership, saying that Kitt, as a former Chief Whip, was fully aware of the procedures for dealing with international matters and that the parliamentary party would be meeting, as it always did, to pursue the business of the country.

“I’m not a Taoiseach on probation. I have the full support of my government colleagues. All of our membership and all of the party throughout the country want us to get on with that job,” Cowen maintained. “Let’s get on with that work.”

Markets ‘take a long view’ – Lenihan

Meanwhile, referring to tomorrow’s treasury bond auction, Brian Lenihan criticised the comments of opposition parties who had said bonds in Anglo Irish Bank should be taken from their owners, and who had put today’s bond chaos down to political instability:

Bond markets let money to this state over periods of four years, six years, eight years and ten years – well beyond the lifetime of governments, and they take a long view. They’re not influenced by minor political disputes that have no influence on economic decision making. [...]

Tomorrow the National Treasury Management Agency have to go to the same markets and raise those monies from investors for Ireland to keep us going.

Lenihan also brushed off questions about ‘rumbles’ of a potential leadership heave, saying that “the most important rumbles around here are on the international bond markets”.

Cowen identified a five-point agenda for restoring the country’s finances, including finalising the terms of the Budget, completing the transfers to NAMA and ensuring that banks are adequately capitalised; increasing access to jobs; implementing new initiatives to stimulate innovation in key industries such as agri-food, manufacturing, tourism and international services; and driving transformation of the public service in line with the Croke Park agreement.

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