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Seven days on, Ó Cuív refuses to back Cowen

Friday, January 14: Brian Cowen has Éamon Ó Cuív’s full support as Fianna Fáil leader. Friday, January 21: No comment.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

BRIAN COWEN could be facing the second major backbench heave against his leadership of Fianna Fáil in as many weekends, as the party’s 71 TDs return to their constituencies after a disastrous week for the party.

After the Green Party scuppered the Taoiseach’s plans for a full cabinet reshuffle on Thursday – leading junior minister Conor Lenihan on Thursday to outwardly call for his resignation, with his political weakness appearing more and more of an issue – yesterday another of his senior ministers appeared uneasy about offering his support.

Éamon Ó Cuív – who only a week previously had taken to Morning Ireland to defend Brian Cowen, and offer his full loyalty – yesterday refused say whether he still held such confidence. asked if such confidence still remained.

“I have no comment,” he simply told the Irish Independent as he attended to engagements in Galway. Earlier, the paper adds, he had refused to speak on Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Adhmhaidin programme, on which he is a regular feature.

Ó Cuív had told the same RnaG programme last week that despite his support for Cowen, he ultimately held ambitions to one day fill the party’s leadership himself.

Micheál Martin – who kickstarted last week’s heave by announcing his intentions to vote against Cowen – has asked TDs to reflect on their positions over the weekend.

Many backbench TDs who last week were prepared to offer public support for Cowen were uncontactable this weekend. One government source told TheJournal.ie on Thursday that Cowen’s opponents were examining whether they could collect the 18 signatures needed to force a motion of no confidence against Cowen at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting.

That motion, if tabled, would not be voted upon until the following week’s meeting – meaning that the vote would take place on February 1. If Cowen was ousted, he would likely remain as Taoiseach for the five to eight Dáil sittings between then and its dissolution.

If forced to step down as leader, Fianna Fáil would then have to find a new party leader with just 38 days remaining before the election, assuming that the March 11 date offered by Cowen on Thursday is the ultimate date of polling.

Yesterday, Cowen insisted the issue of the party leadership was “over”, as he spoke at the meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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