Irish PM Cowen Quits As Ruling Party's Leader

"(Irish Times)

There will be a contest for the Fianna Fáil leadership after three senior members stepped forward as candidates following the resignation of Brian Cowen earlier today.

Former minister for foreign affairs, Micheál Martin this afternoon paid tribute to the Taoiseach for his honesty and integrity and confirmed that he would be putting his name forward as a candidate to succeed him as party leader.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan also confirmed he will contest the leadership. He is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow.

This evening Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív told RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta that he would contest the leadership.

Mr Martin said Mr Cowen had taken his decision to step down as leader of Fianna Fáil in circumstances which cannot have been easy but he admired him for his generosity in putting the party first and stepping down.

“I have always admired the Taoiseach, he's always been a man of honesty and integrity. He has made a distinctive contribution to Irish public life in the ministerial portfolios he has held and indeed as Taoiseach of the country,” said Mr Martin.

Mr Martin said he saw no difficulty with Mr Cowen remaining on as Taoiseach and somebody else being leader of Fianna Fáil, given that the general election was only a few weeks away. He praised Mr Cowen for indicating that he would work with the new leader.

Mr Martin said that he would putting his name forward for the position of leader in line with the opinion that he had previously expressed that he would contest the leadership if and when a vacancy arose.

He said was not taking “anything for granted” in terms of support and he would be in touch with all members of the parliamentary party over the weekend to secure every possible vote as he expected others to also go forward and a full contest to take place.

“I will be talking to my colleagues over

(Irish Times)
There will be a contest for the Fianna Fáil leadership after three senior members stepped forward as candidates following the resignation of Brian Cowen earlier today.

Former minister for foreign affairs, Micheál Martin this afternoon paid tribute to the Taoiseach for his honesty and integrity and confirmed that he would be putting his name forward as a candidate to succeed him as party leader.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan also confirmed he will contest the leadership. He is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow.

This evening Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív told RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta that he would contest the leadership.

Mr Martin said Mr Cowen had taken his decision to step down as leader of Fianna Fáil in circumstances which cannot have been easy but he admired him for his generosity in putting the party first and stepping down.

“I have always admired the Taoiseach, he's always been a man of honesty and integrity. He has made a distinctive contribution to Irish public life in the ministerial portfolios he has held and indeed as Taoiseach of the country,” said Mr Martin.

Mr Martin said he saw no difficulty with Mr Cowen remaining on as Taoiseach and somebody else being leader of Fianna Fáil, given that the general election was only a few weeks away. He praised Mr Cowen for indicating that he would work with the new leader.

Mr Martin said that he would putting his name forward for the position of leader in line with the opinion that he had previously expressed that he would contest the leadership if and when a vacancy arose.

He said was not taking “anything for granted” in terms of support and he would be in touch with all members of the parliamentary party over the weekend to secure every possible vote as he expected others to also go forward and a full contest to take place.

“I will be talking to my colleagues over the weekend, setting out my vision for the party and for the country and I believe I can bring the energy, the vitality to the party to ensure a very vibrant campaign in what will be one of the most important elections ever for the country.

“I also believe my experience in various ministerial portfolios and my understanding of the economic challenges that face the country and in particular the role I've played in encouraging foreign direct investment and Irish owned industry that I know what it takes to ensure the right policy framework is in place in terms of job creation.

Speaking at his home in Ballinlough in Cork city, Mr Martin admitted if elected leader, he faces a huge challenge in terms of winning back support for the party and while he refused to be drawn on the number of seats the party would win under his leadership he believed identified a poll rating in the mid-20s as an achievable goal.

He said that he agreed with Mr Cowen's assessment that the campaign should focus on policies rather personalities and it was important that Fianna Fáil play a central role on the debate on policy choices being put before the electorate.

Mr Martin said he expects the leadership vote to take place early next week and said he would be contacting his party colleagues over the weekend to discuss his candidacy.

“I believe I have the energy and the passion and the commitment to make a difference in terms of how we organise ourselves and how we develop and formulate policies for the future.”

Mr Martin has emerged as the early frontrunner, boosted by his handling of the challenge to Mr Cowen’s leadership last weekend. Today he received the formal support of a number of TDs, including Michael McGrath, Peter Power, Sean Ardagh, Sean Haughy and Cork-based deputies Ned O’Keefe and Michael Moynihan. So far 14 TDs have expressed their support for Mr Martin.

Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin and Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív, who have previously expressed an interest in the role, have yet to confirm that they are standing.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan said this evening she would not contest the leadership.

Earlier today parliamentary party chairman John Browne said nominations for the leadership were likely to close on Monday with a secret ballot held at a specially convened meeting on Wednesday.

Irish Times