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Muted reaction to 'inevitable' decision

FIANNA Fail TDs last night gave a muted reaction to Taoiseach Brian Cowen's decision to step down as party leader and are already looking past him to the general election.

Kildare South TD Sean O Fearghail said there was a sadness in Fianna Fail that the organisation was in such a bad way -- but he did not blame Mr Cowen for the state of the party.

"We just have to face into the election, which is hanging over us like the sword of Damocles," Mr O Fearghail said.

His constituency colleague, Sean Power, who called on his leader to resign on numerous occasions, acknowledged the decision was a difficult one for the Taoiseach.

"I had hoped it would be done earlier," Mr Power said.

Cork East TD Michael Ahern said he had hoped Mr Cowen would stay on and lead the party into the election.

Dublin South-West's Charlie O'Connor said the resignation came as a shock.

But Wexford TD John Browne, chairman of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party, said it was "inevitable" Mr Cowen would resign once rumblings about his leadership continued.

Dublin Central's Cyprian Brady said Mr Cowen's decision was "hugely surprising", while Dublin South-Central's Michaal Mulcahy said the leader had made the right decision.

Carlow-Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward, always a loyal ally of Mr Cowen, said "history will be kind" to the Taoiseach.

"He's carrying the can for the recession and I don't think it's fair one person should be blamed. He's an honest man and I don't think that came across in some of the media coverage."

Irish Independent