Taoiseach hits back at O'Rourke remarks
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen last night hit back at one of his own high-profile backbenchers for suggesting his wife should persuade him to resign.
Fianna Fail backbencher Mary O'Rourke, who is also the aunt of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, claimed at the weekend that the Taoiseach's wife should tell him "it's not worth it" and encourage him to step down.
"I envisage myself in Mary Cowen's boots, saying 'listen, Brian, it's not worth it.' And he saying, 'you're right'," Ms O'Rourke said last weekend after a devastating opinion poll put Fianna Fail at 13pc and Mr Cowen's popularity ratings at 8pc.
But Mr Cowen hit back last night as he mounted a robust defence of his embattled leadership. "I wouldn't advise anyone to get into my wife's boots. She's well able to step in her own boots. And she's been outstandingly supportive of me throughout my political career," Mr Cowen told Newstalk's breakfast show.
At the weekend, the Longford-Westmeath TD Ms O'Rourke described the opinion poll, putting Sinn Fein ahead of Fianna Fail and the Taoiseach at 8pc in the popularity stakes, as "shock and awe" and "miserable". She has called for a special party meeting in January to discuss the leadership issue.
"How can you envisage a General Election with a leader at that percentage?" Ms O'Rourke said at the weekend.
"I don't think within himself he can have any good feeling about the party the way it has all turned out for him."
Yesterday, in the aftermath of the Taoiseach's response, Ms O'Rourke said she welcomed Mr Cowen's clear statements about his plans to lead the party into the next General Election.
But she did not apologise for last weekend's comments or withdraw them.
"I welcome Brian Cowen's statement, it was quite straightforward: 'Listen guys, I'm here, I'm bringing you into the next election, so buckle down'," she said.