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FF hopes of Lenihan revolution fading

FIANNA Fail backbenchers are losing hope that Brian Lenihan will make a move against the Taoiseach before an election.

As Mr Lenihan gets more involved than ever in trying to rescue the country's failing financial institutions, TDs are beginning to accept that he won't heave Brian Cowen out of office.

After a busy week in which he also revealed that his cancer hasn't yet been cured, some backbenchers who were promoting him as the next leader of Fianna Fail are now conceding that he isn't going to do that.

The Finance Minister was today briefing cabinet colleagues about the state of Anglo Irish Bank and his efforts to extend the bank guarantee until the end of the year.

But in a radio interview earlier this week, he twice refused to rule out a run for the leadership in the future but insisted there was "no vacancy" at the moment. The comments gave some hope to a rump of TDs who want Mr Lenihan to lead Fianna Fail into a general election.

"If Cowen is still there at election time, we are facing total wipe-out. With Lenihan it will still be a bloodbath but not as devastating," one TD told the Herald.

However, he said that after a week in which the reality of the banking crisis hit home again, the reality is that Mr Lenihan "can't really walk out of Finance".

Another source said: "His health is still an issue. He seems strong, says he is strong but the cancer hasn't gone away."

Today, the Finance Minister's focus was on getting the Government's reaction to the views of the European Commission, the Central Bank and the National Treasury Management Agency to Anglo.

Yesterday, the European Commission approved an extension to the Government's bank guarantee scheme until the end of the year.

The approval should make it easier for the banks to raise funds, but international markets are still worried.

The Financial Times reported today that it will "ease the funding needs of its domestic lenders after the cost of government borrowing reached the highest levels since the onset of the financial crisis".