Senior party figures convinced Cowen will win confidence vote

A NUMBER of senior figures within Fianna Fáil last night came out in support of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, insisting he will win the confidence vote comprehensively.

Community Minister Pat Carey praised Mr Cowen on his “comprehensive and strong statement” to the media.

“The decision to bring the vote of confidence will bring closure to this chapter and I am expecting that he will win it by a very significant majority,” he said. “The issue of the leadership of the party is closed until at least after the election.”

On Micheál Martin’s decision to call for a change of leader, Mr Carey said the foreign affairs minister clearly felt “duty-bound” to offer his resignation.

“The Taoiseach, as is his prerogative, declined it so I think, to a certain extent, that chapter is virtually closed,” he said, “It will form part of the debate on Tuesday, but I think that is as far as it goes, I think.”

The chairman of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, John Browne, echoed similar sentiments.

“I expect Brian Cowen to win the vote of confidence on Tuesday,” he said, “I have no doubt he will win it.”

On the move by Mr Martin, he said; “Micheál Martin is entitled to his opinion and is entitled to go whatever road he wants to go. Obviously, the Taoiseach took soundings before calling the vote of confidence so I would imagine he has the support of the majority of the parliamentary party.”

Limerick West TD John Cregan also said he believed Mr Martin had given his honest opinion, but he also forecast that the Taoiseach would win the vote.

While earlier in the weekend a number of high-profile party figures, including ministers of state Martin Mansergh and Barry Andrews, also pledged their support to the Taoiseach, others were pushing for a change of leader.

“The parliamentary party should come in behind the candidature of Micheál Martin,” said Noel O’Flynn. “I believe Micheál Martin is the best man to lead us into the general election.”

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