Growing anger among Fianna Fáil TDs has led a small number of backbenchers to talk about moving against Taoiseach Brian Cowen within a week.
The blunt intervention by Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin yesterday led to an “intensification” of the mutterings against the Taoiseach in the wake of his disastrous 'Morning Ireland' interview.
In a pointed statement, Minister Martin indicated the Taoiseach would have to knuckle down, stating that Mr Cowen would realise the fall-out “and he will obviously reflect in terms of the challenges that now come from this and will now knuckle down.”
Speaking to RTÉ last night, Mr Cowen apologised for his performance, and said he was sorry if people thought there was any casualness on his part.
“I want to assure people that there is no disrespect intended and certainly make sure that something like that wouldn’t happen again,” he said.
Party sources today said efforts could be made in the next week to persuade Mr Cowen to step aside. Some within the party said Fianna Fáil is “at a crossroads” and predicted that moves would be made over the weekend.
However, the mutterings have yet to spread beyond the usual dissatisfied rump of the party, and no senior party figure is prepared to move against Mr Cowen. “If a significant player made a move, the whole thing could crumble,” one source predicted.
A number of TDs said, off the record, that they had not been contacted about, nor had they been told about, any move against Mr Cowen.
Cork South Central Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath backed Minister Martin’s intervention, but said that he didn’t think it was a sign of challenge.
“I don’t believe he was laying down a marker or anything, he was asked a question and he gave an honest answer. Humility was required on all sides, and Minister Martin’s response was the right one,” he said.
Cork North Central TD Noel O’Flynn also backed Minister Martin but also said that he did not think the comments were meant as a challenge to Mr Cowen.
“I was glad the Taoiseach gave the interview last night. The issue has to be put behind us,” he said.
Minister Martin was at meetings in Brussels today and could not be contacted for comment.
Article courtesy of the Evening Echo newspaper.