FF mayor calls on Taoiseach to resign
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has been urged to resign and his entire Cabinet were described as "a bunch of chickens" by a Fianna Fail mayor.
Niall O'Neill, the Mayor of Midleton in Co Cork, launched the astonishing attack on the party leadership over their handling of the economy and the financial crisis.
Mr O'Neill said he now had "serious concerns" about the implications of the next General Election for FF -- unless the party and coalition Government immediately alter course.
However, Defence Minister Tony Killeen hit out at Mr O'Neill's comments as being "extremely unhelpful" and "distracting" for the Government.
The mayor feared Mr Cowen was too closely associated with "the sins of the past" and the mistakes made by previous FF-led administrations, none of which the opposition or media would ever forgive him for.
"Brian Cowen needs to resign for the good of the FF party and the country," he said.
But the mayor's hardest-hitting attack was reserved for senior FF cabinet members who have, he claimed, totally failed to indicate their willingness to take over should Mr Cowen agree to depart.
Mr O'Neill said he was "astonished" that no senior cabinet member had to date challenged Mr Cowen's leadership.
"I have heard it said none of the Cabinet would want the job because it is a poisoned chalice. If that was the case, you would have to ask if the country was being led by 15 chickens in the Cabinet," he said.
"Historically, FF has always been able to bring brave and capable men forward into leadership positions in difficult times -- but I am deeply perturbed by the suggestion that this may no longer be the case," he told the Irish Independent.
Mr O'Neill admitted his comments may now lead some to question his future in the party.
But he said it was vital that the FF party now faced up to the harsh reality of the consequences of the Anglo Irish Bank and financial sector debacles.
He said the party ran the risk of being "terminally damaged" unless it rapidly changed and returned to its traditional grassroots ideals.
However, Mr Killeen said the mayor's position was not supported: "Brian Cowen is by far the best to lead the country. We have moved past the considerations of party because the crisis requires us to work together."