Saturday 20 January 2018

Barry Cowen: 'I want to lead Fianna Fail'

Offaly TD also confirmed former Taoiseach Brian Cowen is assisting him in campaign

Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen
Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen has declared his desire to lead the party.

Mr Cowen, who is representing Fianna Fáil during tonight's deputy leaders' debate on TV3, said each member of the parliamentary party would like to lead Fianna Fáil.

And he confirmed that his brother, former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, is assisting him with his campaign.

"My esteemed brother is a member of the organisation, a member of the Fianna Fáil party and he's played his role, the same as all other members are. He is entitled to as a private citizen.  He is enjoying the campaign the same as everybody else is," Mr Cowen said today. Asked why the party currently has no deputy leader, Mr Cowen replied: "We are all deputy leaders".

He made the remarks alongside Fianna Fail's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath during the launch of the party's mortgage proposals.

Mr Cowen confirmed he would like to be appointed deputy leader on a permanent footing before going on to serve as leader in the future.

"Of course I'd like to be deputy leader, I'd love to be leader. But that's neither here or there, so would this man( Mr McGrath), so would 19 others in the parliamentary party," he said, adding that Micheal Martin is now an "alternative Taoiseach".

During a press conference in Dublin, both Mr Cowen and Mr McGrath ruled out the prospect of entering coalition with Fine Gael.

They said they would wait until the electorate has its say, but said they do not intend to do business with Enda Kenny's party.

Meanwhile, Mr McGrath pledged a suite of measures aimed at assisting those in mortgage and rental difficulty.

He described the higher rates being charged to 300,000 variable rate customers as scandalous.

Mr McGrath said his party will introduce legislation which will empower the Central Bank to force lenders to slash rates.

The legislation will allow a cap to be set on the variable rate and provide for sanctions if banks fail to comply with Central Bank orders.

The party is also pledging measures to assist first times buyers caught in the "vicious circle" of not being able to save for a deposit because of high rent.

The measures would see the Central Bank reducing the deposit requirements for those who can demonstrate a three year track record of paying rent.

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