Biffo resigns FF leadership, clings on as Taoiseach

#1
Cowen resigns as FF leader, but to remain as Taoiseach
Brian Cowen has stepped down as leader of Fianna Fáil just five days after he won a vote of confidence from his parliamentary party. He will remain as Taoiseach.

He announced the decision at a Dublin hotel this afternoon following a week of unprecedented political turmoil in the wake of his botched attempt to reshuffle the Cabinet.

Mr Cowen said he had taken the decision after it became clear that internal criticism of his leadership was deflecting the party from uniting to contest the election on March 11th.

“Therefore, taking everything into account, and having discussed the matter with my family, I have decided, on my own counsel, to step down as leader of Fianna Fáil.”

Me Cowen said his decision would allow the party elect a new leader to ensure it fights the election “in a united and determined manner, free from internal distraction”. “We must remember that Fianna Fáil’s big fight is with our political opposition, not with ourselves.”

Mr Cowen said he had not been in contact with any senior members of his party prior to making his decision. He said he had taken the decision to resolve an "internal party matter" and that it would not impact on his role as Taoiseach.

Mr Cowen said the election should be fought on policies not a leadership issue. “I’m concerned that renewed internal criticism of Fianna Fáil is deflecting attention from this important debate,” Mr Cowen said.

“Therefore, taking everything into account after discussing the matter with my family I have taken, on my own counsel, the decision to step down.”


Mr Cowen said he spoke to Green Party leader John Gormley before making today's announcement. He said his resignation will not affect Government business. “My political assessment is that this is the right thing to do for the party,” he said. “But it’s about me directing my attention to the country.”

Mr Cowen said he expected the Government would win a confidence vote in the Dáil next Wednesday evening put down by the Labour Party.

"The Government will continue to govern the country," he told reporters. Mr Cowen said the process to elect a new leader would be finalised over the next week.

His decision comes after renewed criticism of his leadership from many backbenchers following his attempted reshuffle on Thursday after five ministers stepped down earlier in the week. This move was blocked by the Green Party.

Asked why he attempted to reshuffle the Cabinet, Mr Cowen said: “I believe that it was my duty to put in place the best possible team we could to fight this election to put them on the frontbench and into position,” the Taoiseach said.

“It was not a cynical view by me. It was a political act.”

Cork East deputy Ned O’Keeffe today issued his support for former minister for foreign affairs Micheál Martin to take on the leadership of the party.

Mr O’Keeffe said Mr Martin “handled himself impeccably” during the confidence vote and had come out of it with “great credibility”.

Mr O’Keeffe also paid tribute to Mr Cowen for the “dignified” way he stood down as leader today and feels Mr Cowen was “ill-advised over the last few weeks in deciding to carry on”.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny criticised Mr Cowen’s decision to remain as Taoiseach, saying was a “complete contradiction of his stated position less than a week ago”.

Mr Kenny said unless Mr Cowen sought an immediate dissolution of the Dáil, his party would move a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach next week.
My bold, the nation of Ireland utters a nearly unanimous... "gobshite".
 
#2
Over at JOE.IE Brian Cowen and those who may replace him as Fianna Fáil leader
Three men and a little lady are in the running for Fianna Fáil party leader now that the man from Offaly has stepped down. We scrutinise them.

By Nick Bradshaw

As the year started, it looked as if Brian Cowen would lead Fianna Fáil to a crushing defeat at the forthcoming national poll. And then a couple of weeks ago it was discovered that an Taoiseach played golf with bankers (of the disgraced kind) and everything changed.

With Cowen stepping down as leader of Fianna Fáil, a new man (or woman) is about to take the top job at the party.

Three of the four in the frame currently hold ministerial posts in the Fianna Fáil-led Cabinet. One resigned from the Cabinet last week. The four front runners go by the names of Lenihan, Martin, Hanafin and Ó Cuív...

Potential Successor No.1

Name: Brian Lenihan

Age: 51

Current job: Minister for Finance

The Other Brian in the cabinet is a trained barrister, but he was always destined to end up in the Dáil since he has Fianna Fáil running through his blood - he's the son of former FF leading light Brian Lenihan Snr and the nephew of FF battleaxe Mary O'Rourke.

He was first elected to the Dáil in 1996 but was passed over for a long time by Bertie Ahern, eventually becoming Minister of State for Children in 2002, then Minister for Justice in 2007. He was handed his current poisoned chalice in 2008, having been asked by the current Taoiseach to step into the role that Brian Cowen had just vacated.

On the plus side, the fact that Lenihan was never part of Bertie Ahern's inner sanctum means that he can skip through the modern political landscape without carrying the weight of the legacy of that period with him.

On the negative side, instead he must carry the weight of being the Minister for Finance at a time when we're in knee neck deep in financial doo-doo.

Lenihan is the man who has proved that it can be possible to have cancer without cancer taking complete control of your life (he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer late in 2009) and who had managed to keep a lot of people thinking that, even if Fianna Fáil weren't the right people to lead the government, he was the right person to try and sort out the current financial crisis.

No one doubts he's worked hard to address the poor economic decisions of previous finance ministers.

But his optomistic forcasts for the economy in 2010 made him sound like a man who was desperately hoping that if he said things would get better then magically they would.

And he did himself no favours within the party when he spent a week briefing fellow TDs that there was no chance of an EU-IMF bailout, when clearly that was exactly what was about to happen. Then when the vote of no confidence in the Taoiseach was tabled, his dithering did him no favours.

Chances of taking over: possible before the EU-IMF bailout, more improbable now.

Potential Successor No.2

Name: Micheál Martin

Age: 50

Current job: Backbencher, having until recently been Minister for Foreign Affairs

Cork South Central TD Micheál Martin is something unusual in senior FF politics in that he's one of us. T,hat is, he's someone with no dynastic links to Fianna Fáil grandees. Unlike the other three tipped to take over from Brian Cowen, the ghosts of his ancestors do not patrol the corridors of Leinster House.

He subtly threw his hat in the ring when he spoke about the need for Fianna Fáil to embark on a radical programme of reform, signalling that he wants to be seen as one of those who isn't entrenched in doing things the way they've always been done.

He was initially elected to Dáil Eireann way back in 1989, and he had a seat at cabinet for the 14 years - a period that has given him a good chance to sniff around a fair few important government departments, such as Education, Health, Trade and, most recently Foreign Affairs.

He had an unwanted test of his ability to cope with terrible pressure late last year when he tragically suffered the worst possible kind of bereavement - the death of his daughter.

In recent weeks he became the most vocal senior TD to call for Brian Cowen to step down. When the no confidence vote was lost, Mr Martin stepped down as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

There's a possible black mark against him relating to his reported reluctance to make a difficult decision when he was Minister for Health. And those loyal to Cowen won't be big fans of him taking the helm.

Chances of taking over: high - he has a strong popular fanbase in the party.

Potential Successor No.3

Name: Mary Hanafin

Age: 51

Current job: Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport... plus other stuff since the botched Cabinet reshuffle.

Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, Mary O'Rourke, Mary Harney, Mary Hanafin - there's clearly something about Marys in Irish political life.

The last on that list of Marys is the only woman on the list of potential Cowen replacements. She made her position on that issue apparent two weeks ago when she refused to give her support to under-attack Cowen on three separate occasions.

Mary Hanafin is the meek-looking daughter of former Senator Des Hanafin. She became a TD in 1997 and was a rising star under Bertie Ahern. She stayed at the top table when Brian Cowen took over, but was demoted from Education to Social and Family Affairs.

Like Micheál Martin, Hanafin is a former teacher and if she were picked to take over from BC ahead of the election, she would be the first woman to lead Fianna Fáil.

Chances of taking over: more likely to become the deputy leader under one of the other possible contenders. She didn't exactly stick her neck on the line to publicly declare for or against Cowen during the recent no confidence vote by the FF parliamentary party.

Potential Successor No.4

Name: Éamon Ó Cuív

Age: 60

Current job: Minister for Social Protection... plus other stuff since the botched Cabinet reshuffle.

Ó Cuív is the most recent to put himself in possible contention and he remained loyal to Brian Cowen until pretty much the end.

As far as having the right pedigree to get the top Fianna Fáil job, you'd struggle to beat the credentials of Éamon Ó Cuív, who is the grandson of the man who trumps them all - none other than party founder, first Taoiseach and third president Éamon De Valera.

The Galway West TD was first elected to the Dáil in 1992 having previously been a member of Seanad.

Not suprisingly for the former Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Ó Cuív is a fluent Irish speaker, and has by far the most fada over his name (three), which must give him a few bonus points (although the un-Irish use of a 'v' in his name might lose him a point).

He's widely credited with getting the Official Languages Act on the statute books. Some people in An Daingean/Dingle aren't his biggest fans, however, after he said that the name of the town couldn't be changed back to Dingle, even if the residents voted for the change.

Chances of taking over: He was never one to push, but now that Cowen has tumbled, Ó Cuív might step up and can't be ruled out as he has a lot of grass-roots support (although he's something of an outside bet).
Bookies suspended betting on Martin yesterday. He's the fecker that set up the HSE and banned fags in bars. It's amazing Brian Lenihan can be a contender, worst finance minister in the EU and that is saying something.
 
#3
Over at JOE.IE Brian Cowen and those who may replace him as Fianna Fáil leader
Bookies suspended betting on Martin yesterday. He's the fecker that set up the HSE and banned fags in bars. It's amazing Brian Lenihan can be a contender, worst finance minister in the EU and that is saying something.
BL is in no state to be running anything, he is currently battling cancer and he doesn't look well....plus he's shite at his job
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
I am struck by the similarities between Cowen and a certain one eyed idiot in this country.

- Firm grip on the party machine - check.
- Crap at dealing with people - check
- Thought he'd saved the banks - check
- Clung on to power when everyone around him wished he's fall on his sword - check
- Will be responsible for his party being out of power for the next 2 - 3 parliaments - check

Wordsmith
 
#5
Over at JOE.IE Brian Cowen and those who may replace him as Fianna Fáil leader...
Where's Tom Kitt in all this? He has been mumbling about not contesting his seat in the next election, unless........
As a former Chief Whip under Bertie, he must still have some clout in the party.
 
#7
I am struck by the similarities between Cowen and a certain one eyed idiot in this country.

- Firm grip on the party machine - check.
- Crap at dealing with people - check
- Thought he'd saved the banks - check
- Clung on to power when everyone around him wished he's fall on his sword - check
- Will be responsible for his party being out of power for the next 2 - 3 parliaments - check

Wordsmith
But on the plus side, he got rid of Gerry Adams from the UK politics scene, surely that must put his domestic problems into context
 

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