Saturday 25 February 2017

Fianna Fail backbencher renews attack on 'haunted' Cowen

A disgruntled Fianna Fail backbencher today questioned Taoiseach Brian Cowen`s leadership for a second time, suggesting he should not lead the party into the next general election.

Sean Power said the hope that accompanied Mr Cowen's appointment to office had turned to despair and there was deep concern about his performance.

The Kildare South TD previously expressed concerns about Mr Cowen's leadership during the summer, along with fellow rebel backbenchers Mattie McGrath and Noel O'Flynn.

Mr Power claimed the Taoiseach is haunted by his time as finance minister.

"I appreciate that he is trying to lead the country at a very, very difficult time," he said.

"But people have advised him on numerous occasions that he should explain clearly to the public the seriousness of the situation that we're in and to explain why he's doing what he's doing, why he's making particular decisions he's making. Just to explain exactly to the people. But he's decided not to do that.

"And he hasn't communicated or connected with the people. And I believe, myself, that he's haunted by his period as minister for finance. "

Mr Power questioned Mr Cowen's leadership at a meeting of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party last night.

He claimed he was not alone as a number of colleagues across the country share his feelings.

"There's plenty of support amongst colleagues," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.

"I know some of them find it difficult to get up out of loyalty, they feel that they have to support the Taoiseach.

"I think in their heart of hearts, many of them will admit that we need a new leader facing into the next general election."

In July Mr Cowen vowed to continue as Fianna Fail leader amid reports of backbench discontent, claiming the party had been extraordinarily disciplined.

Mr Power then told Mr Cowen at a breakfast meeting that people were disappointed, to varying degrees, with his performance.

Mr McGrath - expelled from the parliamentary party for abstaining from voting on the Wildlife Amendment Bill which outlawed the country's only stag hunt with hounds - then branded Mr Cowen and Green Party chief John Gormley weak leaders.

Cork North Central TD Noel O'Flynn said he was extremely worried about the party's popularity ratings.

Mr Cowen's leadership was further called into question after a poor performance in a live radio interview after a late night at the Fianna Fail think-in in Galway.

The Taoiseach also suffered a blow last month after Independent Galway TD Noel Grealish withdrew his support for the coalition as he distanced himself from swingeing health cuts in the west.

Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said Mr Power was speaking alone and there was no appetite for a heave.

"There was not a group of people lined up behind him. People who might have been outspoken in the past did not speak out against the Taoiseach," she said.

"In fact, they did the exact opposite. They said this is the time to stick together, this is the time to give leadership and this is the time to enable people to work on the budget and not be distracted by it."

Press Association

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