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Monday 11 December 2017

Cowen 'on notice' ahead of party grilling

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen is to face a special Fianna Fail meeting next week on his leadership and communications strategy.

And Mr Cowen was told at a parliamentary party meeting yesterday he is a leader "on notice" and half his TDs will be getting their P45s unless he improves his performance.

Rebel TD John McGuinness told Mr Cowen he could not defend the Taoiseach's late night drinking and 'Morning Ireland' interview after the Fianna Fail 'think-in' in Galway two weeks ago. Mr McGuinness said the interview had gained worldwide negative publicity

Mr Cowen previously told the parliamentary party he is not a leader "on probation" -- which he repeated last week in a press conference with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

But he was told by Mr McGuinness he was not on probation but "on notice". Numerous TDs spoke about Mr Cowen's communications problems, including Tom Kitt, Michael Kennedy, Sean O'Fearghail and Ned O'Keeffe.

Mr Kitt and Mr McGuinness have previously said Fianna Fail should change its leader.

Mr Cowen has agreed to hold a meeting next week to discussion the communications issue, which one TD said was basically code for Mr Cowen's leadership.

"These boys hide behind the communications thing instead of just saying it's his leadership," a backbench TD said.

Mr Kitt said he "sought a meeting with regard to the way we are communicating with the public, our connectivity and how we're interacting with people".


"My assessment is there will be no change of leadership unless some minister, whether it is he or her, puts their names forward. There are so many serious issues that have to be dealt with that we've got to move on.

"Before the summer I raised all these issues, and I kept notes of what I said, and they all relate to communication and connectivity. As far as I was concerned, there was no progress since the time I made those points, which was well before the summer," Mr Kitt added.

Mr O'Keeffe said a Cabinet reshuffle was needed but added the party wasn't supportive enough of Mr Cowen in the aftermath of the 'Morning Ireland' interview.

He said Fine Gael's Simon Coveney -- who said the Taoiseach sounded halfway between drunk and hungover in the interview -- had tried to hijack the think-in and Fianna Fail should have been more supportive of Mr Cowen.

He also asked Mr Lenihan about the Government's banking strategy and was strongly critical of the approach to NAMA.

After the meeting, Mr O'Keeffe went on radio and called for the appointment of a new minister for finance.

Irish Independent

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