Majority want the Taoiseach to go before election
Taoiseach Brian Cowen should resign before the next General Election, to be replaced by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, a poll found last night.
The damage done to Mr Cowen's standing with the public since taking over as Taoiseach is reflected in the finding that three in five voters say he should step down.
Mr Lenihan is the favourite to succeed Mr Cowen as leader of Fianna Fail, followed by Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin.
Following a bruising month for the Taoiseach dominated by his disastrous 'Morning Ireland' interview, 61pc of those polled say he should resign.
Just 29pc say he should lead Fianna Fail into the next election, according to the Ipsos MRBI opinion poll for the 'Irish Times'. One in 10 of those polled have no opinion.
Among Fianna Fail voters though, 61pc said Mr Cowen should remain and 32pc said he should step down.
It's all a far cry from Mr Cowen's poll ratings before he became Taoiseach. The then-Finance Minister had a satisfaction rating of 52pc in January 2008 -- three months before Mr Cowen became Taoiseach.
Now his satisfaction rating is down to just 19pc and a clear majority think he should go by polling day. Mr Lenihan is favoured by 39pc of those polled to take his place, with Mr Martin scoring 18pc.
Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin is on 8pc, followed by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern on 6pc and other Fianna Fail figures on 5pc.
But almost one in four voters, 24pc, don't know who should replace Mr Cowen.
The latest poll establishes a consistent pattern of discontent with the Taoiseach's leadership. A week ago, a poll by Millward Brown Lansdowne for TV3 said just over half, or 52pc, no longer wanted him to continue as leader.
Only 40pc said he should remain on and 8pc expressed no opinion. Similarly, only 22pc of Fianna Fail supporters wanted Mr Cowen to step down.
The findings come just a fortnight after Mr Cowen's leadership of Fianna Fail was thrown into doubt by his 'Morning Ireland' interview, with Mr Lenihan, Mr Martin, Ms Hanafin and Mr Ahern all mentioned as possible successors.
Mr Lenihan's battle against cancer was thought to have ruled him out of any leadership move, but his aunt, Longford-Westmeath TD Mary O'Rourke, indicated he would be willing to put himself forward if a vacancy arose.