Hanafin maintains silence as Cowen discusses election date

The Fianna Fáil party will today begin picking up the pieces after a bruising leadership challenge which saw Brian Cowen survive as leader, and Micheál Martin resign as Foreign Affairs Minister.

The Fianna Fáil party will today begin picking up the pieces after a bruising leadership challenge which saw Brian Cowen survive as leader, and Micheál Martin resign as Foreign Affairs Minister.

The Taoiseach will now consider a replacement for Michael Martin who has pledged to support the party, and said he will remain loyal to the Government in the run-up to the election.

A queston mark still hangs over whether the Tourism Minsiter Mary Hanafin should continue in Cabinet.

Ms Hanafin has maintained a strict silence on whether she wants Mr Cowen to lead the party into the general election.

The party's TD for Dublin South Tom Kitt said her true feelings on the matter remain unclear.

Mr Kitt said: "You'll have to ask Mary Hanafin, but all she said at the meeting was that she would vote according to her conversation with the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach knows and she knows."

Pressure is mounting now to name a date for the polling day with Opposition parties describing the Government as "discredited, dysfunctional and now divided".

Green Ministers will meet with the Taoiseach later to demand clarity on how long the Government will last for and to push for an actual polling date.

Government Chief Whip John Curran has admitted that it could well be after St. Patrick's Day before the Government is dissolved.

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