BRIAN COWEN has been told he is a “Taoiseach on notice” by one of his own TDs.
The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party met shortly before the resumption of the Dáil yesterday and saw a demand for a reshuffle as well as criticism of Mr Cowen.
The criticism stemmed from allegations that Mr Cowen was hung-over during a recent radio interview following a party conference in Galway.
Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, a frequent critic of the Taoiseach’s leadership, said he couldn’t and wouldn’t defend the interview.
A few days after that interview, Mr Cowen had declared he was not a “Taoiseach on probation”.
But Mr McGuinness told him yesterday that he was certainly a “Taoiseach on notice” and that if things continued as they were, half of the party’s TDs would be “getting their P45s” at the next election.
Mr McGuinness warned that the Government could not solely concentrate on the banks and had to address the social issues affecting people – such as job losses and mortgage arrears – if it were to arrest its slide.
Speaking following the meeting, Mr McGuinness said: “People are living on bread and butter because their lives have been ravaged. And we haven’t given them any hope in terms of the direction we’re offering.”
The meeting was private, but three TDs present confirmed the nature of Mr McGuinness’s criticisms.
However, deputy Government whip John Cregan insisted Mr McGuinness’s comments did not represent a “personal attack” on the Taoiseach.
Mr Cregan said Mr McGuinness was merely articulating that the party as a whole would suffer if it did not improve its message.
It’s understood that Mr Cowen, in response to Mr McGuinness, said the party could discuss communications issues at next week’s meeting.
But another TD, Tom Kitt, told Mr Cowen he had notes from the last such meeting held to discuss the party’s communications strategy and that nothing had improved since.
Ned O’Keeffe, meanwhile, said he called for a reshuffle at the meeting, and again criticised the NAMA strategy, saying it wouldn’t work.
Speaking on RTÉ after the meeting, Mr O’Keeffe said the reshuffle should incorporate a change at the Department of Finance – indicating he wants Minister Brian Lenihan replaced.
But another TD, Michael McGrath, said Mr Lenihan had given a very clear and impressive presentation on Anglo Irish Bank and other economic issues at the meeting, and had “engendered a sense of confidence” among those present.
Noel O’Flynn called for the investigations into Anglo to be concluded speedily to demonstrate to the public that the issue was being tackled.
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