Labour hint at FF deal -- if Cowen goes
Senior figures within the Labour Party have said they would be prepared to go into government with Fianna Fail, as long as Brian Cowen was no longer leader.
Despite leader Eamon Gilmore's insistence that Labour would not share power with Fianna Fail, several frontbench members have said that if Brian Lenihan was in charge, they would deal with him.
Those claiming to favour a coalition with Fianna Fail said that it would be easier and more natural to work with them, as opposed to Fine Gael.
Labour will be the kingmakers at the next election and are at a record high in the opinion polls, and are expected to get over 30 seats.
Mr Gilmore has stated repeatedly that he would not do a power deal with Fianna Fail, but some of his most senior lieutenants have said they are not ruling it out.
All said they would not do a deal with Brian Cowen, but if he was no longer leader they would be prepared to go into government with Fianna Fail.
"It's clear many of us would work better with Fianna Fail than we would with Fine Gael. Our policies are closer and it's a better fit. We would waste an awful lot of time arguing with the Fine Gael lads which I think wouldn't happen with Fianna Fail, particularly under Lenihan," one member said.
Deputy leader Joan Burton said: "I know that some of our people feel that working with Fianna Fail would be easier than with Enda Kenny. But there's no way any of this would happen if Brian Cowen was still there. My own view is that it's time for a change and the people want Fianna Fail out."
Brendan Howlin said yesterday that Labour will go to the people on its own platform.
"I think the people are ready to reject Fianna Fail, but we are going to the polls on our own agenda. We will be seeking to maximise Labour's influence, whether it's Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, but I get a clear sense that the people want Fianna Fail out."