Independents won't vote for replacement
INDEPENDENT TDs Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry last night ruled out voting for a "Third Taoiseach" to replace Brian Cowen.
It means that a successful leadership heave against Mr Cowen could bring forward the date for a general election because there might not be the numbers to elect a new Taoiseach in the Dail.
Mr Healy-Rae said last night that he was still willing to support Mr Cowen as Taoiseach -- and not a replacement.
"Unless something very major altogether will happen I won't change my mind. He's the second Taoiseach I've backed in this term and, in all fairness, it would be very unfair to ask me to back a third one," he said.
He was speaking after Independent TD Michael Lowry released a statement to confirm that he would not be voting for an alternative Fianna Fail Taoiseach. The Government has a majority of just two -- so the support of Mr Lowry and Mr Healy-Rae is crucial.
The Green Party, which still wants to pass key legislation, has not ruled in or out the prospect of voting in another Taoiseach. Its leader John Gormley made this clear recently in an interview on RTE's 'Marian Finucane Show'.
After a parliamentary party meeting last night, the Greens conspicuously failed to express confidence in Mr Cowen.
In a statement, the party said he should have revealed his contacts with Anglo Irish Bank executives himself.
The Green Party said it had "concerns" about the additional revelation that former Anglo director Gary McGann and Indecon managing partner Alan Gray were also present.
It was taken last night as a signal that the Green Party was standing back while the debate about Mr Cowen's leadership continues in Fianna Fail.