Rebel FF TDs say discontent growing
REBEL Fianna Fail TDs looking to displace Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night claimed their campaign was gaining momentum after a number of normally loyal TDs went public with criticisms of the party leader.
But Mr Cowen insisted he was focussed on leading the country through the economic difficulties.
In the wake of the cautious Cabinet reshuffle, FF backbencher MJ Nolan said Mr Cowen's leadership was "a great disappointment" and had not lived up to expectations. Stopping well short of joining his Carlow-Kilkenny constituency colleague, John McGuinness, in saying Mr Cowen should resign, Mr Nolan did say there was "serious disquiet" within the parliamentary party.
"I wouldn't rule anything out at this stage," Mr Nolan, traditionally an ultra-Cowen loyalist, said. "There is serious discontent within the Fianna Fail parliamentary party," he added.
Mr Nolan said he knew Fianna Fail would not return to government after the next election.
Fellow FF Carlow-Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward, another loyalist, said he was also unhappy with the reshuffle, but said Mr McGuinness was on a solo run.
Waterford TD Brendan Kenneally, yet another regarded as a loyalist, said he had been in the parliamentary party since 1989 but couldn't remember the atmosphere among TDs and senators being "as bad as it is at the moment". Mr Kenneally said he hoped Mr Cowen heeded the message.
One of the five TDs actively gauging the level of discontent in the party earlier this week said: "I'm surprised these boys have come out and said that. It shows that things are getting serious and others seem to think the same." The dramatic interventions of the loyalists came after TDs John McGuinness and Mattie McGrath called on Mr Cowen to resign, although Mr McGrath backtracked yesterday.
Other normally loyal TDs outside of the so-called 'awkward squad' say yesterday's developments prove dissatisfaction with Mr Cowen is widespread across the backbenches.
"People seem to be waiting on a leadership contender to stand up," one younger TD said.
The Taoiseach said people were entitled to express personal opinions, but he intended to "stay focussed" on the major issues at hand.