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FF leadership? ... no problem, I got tips off Biffo

HE'S unlikely to show up at Fianna Fail's Ard Fheis but the ghost of governments' past -- Brian Cowen -- has given some tips to Micheal Martin.

Ahead of his first Ard Fheis speech tonight as leader of the party, Mr Martin told the Herald that he is now on good terms with his predecessor.

The Cork man effectively ousted Brian Cowen ahead of last year's election, but they are now "on good terms".

Asked if he has met Mr Cowen in the year since they divided the party in the final days of the last Government, Mr Martin said: "I met with Brian quite a number of times now at various events. He has (given me tips). He's been very supportive."

The former foreign affairs minister also defended the ex-Taoiseach, saying he had "served his time".

"In fairness to Brian he has stood back. He has been Taoiseach, he has served his time.

"He doesn't want to encroach on the current parliamentary party and its work. He's taken a very dignified approach to it."

Mr Martin added: "He went through some very difficult years when a tsunami of issues came on his agenda as Taoiseach. Very, very huge issues.

"This is the worst collapse since 1929, since the Great Depression. It's been labelled the Great Recession.

"He worked extremely hard and put in place a lot of the pillars that the current Government are continuing with in terms of banking and finance. We're on good terms."


Around 3,000 Fianna Fail grassroot members of Fianna Fail are expect to attend the Ard Fheis in the RDS which will climax with Mr Martin's televised speech on this evening.

His address is likely to focus on "regeneration" and finding new talent to bring the party back into the mainstream and win back support in Dublin .

But he will also criticise Enda Kenny's Government for "focusing too much on spin and not enough on policy".