TD tells Cowen FF must have leadership debate
BRIAN Cowen was told by one of his own TDs last night that Fianna Fail should have a debate on whether he is the right man to lead the party into the General Election.
The Taoiseach was confronted by Kildare TD Sean Power at a meeting of the parliamentary party. But Mr Power was alone in his call and the assembled TDs and senators were said to have been taken aback by the unexpected intervention.
The issue arose after Transport Minister Noel Dempsey had discussed election tactics at a previous meeting.
Mr Power told last night's meeting that nobody outside of the four walls of the party room expected the Government to last until 2012. He told Mr Cowen the "big question" was whether he should lead them into the next election.
The Taoiseach said he thought he had dealt with the issue before, when it had been raised by another rebel TD, John McGuinness.
Mr Cowen insisted that he had a job to do and told Mr Power there were ways and means of dealing with his leadership, which those present took to meaning the tabling of a motion of no confidence.
"If somebody thinks I'm just going to step aside because they keep bringing this up, that's not going to happen," Mr Cowen said in one of two addresses on his leadership.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Power said: "A lot of colleagues have concerns. The general feeling would be the qualities he showed as Tanaiste have not been very apparent from when he took over as Taoiseach."
Mr Power has previously criticised Mr Cowen. In July, he said he would support a challenge against Mr Cowen if it would benefit the country.