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FF fears leadership heave by Rebel O Cuiv

FIANNA Fail was today attempting to quash speculation Eamon O Cuiv could make a leadership bid.

Mr O Cuiv, a hugely popular figure among rank-and-file party members, was effectively sacked by leader Micheal Martin.

The Galway West TD's position as deputy leader and Communications, Energy and Natural Resources spokesman became "untenable" after defying the party over the EU fiscal compact treaty, Mr Martin said today.

Party sources told the Herald: "There isn't enough support for a heave or anything like that at this stage but this could be the start of something. It will really worry Micheal Martin."

The parliamentary party met last night to discuss O Cuiv's shock resignation and it is thought that Mr Martin could appoint a new deputy leader at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis over the weekend.

Sources say he would "dearly love" to select a woman but the party doesn't have a single female TD.

"If he wanted to go down that route Senator Averil Power would be the only viable option. It could work because she is part of the Mary Hanafin stock and from Dublin, which is a blackhole for the party at the minute. But it would be risky as she's so inexperienced," said a source.

The most likely candidates include Dara Calleary and Billy Kelleher.