Cowen rejects talk of leadership threat

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has dismissed talk of a threat to his leadership as ministers rallied to his defence in the face of sharp backbench criticism.

Mr Cowen insisted he would continue to lead a “united Government” as unhappy deputies pledged to hold him to account at a Fianna Fáil parliamentary meeting. Justice Minister Dermot Ahern conceded the party had to “up its game”, but said: “The last thing the country needs is political upheaval, we have seen that in the Fine Gael party in recent times and it just takes away attention from important issues.”

Former junior minister Seán Power said he was “very disappointed” in Mr Cowen and would support a challenge under some circumstances but did not expect one soon. “If Brian Cowen wants or intends to continue leading the Fianna Fáil party and leading this country as Taoiseach he will have to change his direction and strategy,” he told Kildare’s KFM.

Cork North Central TD Noel O’Flynn said: “Prior to Easter, the Taoiseach said he had a strategy to lift his own popularity and the popularity of the party. We have yet to hear that strategy.”

Dublin deputy Chris Andrews tabled a motion for tonight’s meeting attacking plans for a property tax; disquiet continued over the dog breeding bill; and three FF senators threatened to oppose the Coalition’s civil partnership bill as it goes through the upper house this week.

Government Chief Whip John Curran insisted only a small number of backbenchers had a problem with the Taoiseach and were in a minority.


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