Independents refusing to back new leader
Independent TDs Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae last night caused anger within Fianna Fail with their refusal to support a new leader for Taoiseach.
Their comments were seen by some Fianna Fail TDs as interference in an internal party matter.
Significantly, the two Independents who support the Government did not say they would vote against a new leader.
Mr Lowry said there would have to be a general election if there was a change of leader.
The Tipperary North TD said the leadership of Fianna Fail is an internal matter, to be dealt with by its own membership.
"Because of the current public debate, I want to make it clear, in the event of Fianna Fail putting forward an alternative candidate for Taoiseach, I will not vote for that nominee," he said.
"It is unfair and undemocratic of the Fianna Fail party to expect the Dail to change Taoiseach three times in the lifespan of one term of Government. There should only be a change of Taoiseach after the public have the opportunity to vote in a general election," he said.
But the comments didn't go down well in Fianna Fail, with eyebrows being raised by several TDs.
"Some of our lads feel it's hardly for Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae to be saying who the leader should be. That might be more of a negative. They didn't say they'd withdraw from the Government," a party TD said.
Mr Healy-Rae said he could not guarantee his support for the Government under a new Taoiseach.
The Kerry South TD said he made a deal with Bertie Ahern and then Brian Cowen but added that it was "quite possible" he would not support any one else.