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Lenihan family at odds over Cowen's chaotic leadership

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan stayed silent on Taoiseach Brian Cowen's leadership of Fianna Fail as his brother, junior minister Conor, repeatedly called on his leader to resign.

But Mr Lenihan's aunt, Mary O'Rourke, said it is now too late to change leaders. Worried backbenchers despairing at the state of Fianna Fail after a week, which saw a vote of confidence in Mr Cowen and a botched Cabinet reshuffle were in contact with Mr Lenihan yesterday.

A number of TDs are now hoping that Mr Cowen will step aside as leader or that senior figures in the party would go to him and tell him his time is up.

Sources close to Mr Lenihan also indicated this was the more likely approach to be taken instead of a full-blown heave, but it is not clear if Mr Lenihan would do so.

Despite the request from Fianna Fail leadership challenger, former minister Michael Martin, for TDs to reflect over the weekend on Mr Cowen's position following events over the past few days, Mr Lenihan stayed silent.

But some TDs took the comments to be directed at the Dublin West deputy.

Conor Lenihan has embarked on a publicity blitz over the last 36 hours calling for Mr Cowen to step aside.

He repeated his call for the Taoiseach to resign on numerous occasions yesterday, arguing that his botched reshuffle attempt had again raised questions about his leadership.

Mr Lenihan said it was known "as far back as Saturday" that the Greens were not willing to go along with the reshuffle.

"We do need to take responsibility and accountability for unfortunate situations that we create ourselves. And, that's why I'm asking Brian Cowen to resign," he told RTE.


Ms O'Rourke, a TD for Longford-Westmeath, said it is "far too late" for leadership questions.

"All of this is futile," she added.

But earlier yesterday, she said the leadership issue could be revisited at next week's parliamentary party meeting "on balance".

"If the numbers answer the call it will be. If they don't, it won't be."

The outspoken TD would not directly answer questions about whether she would vote 'Yes' if there was another vote of confidence in Mr Cowen.

Irish Independent