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It's time for a 'new Fianna Fail'

FIANNA Fail TDs were today on the verge of quitting the party and forming a 'New Fianna Fail'.

Many backbenchers believe a heave against Brian Cowen may not be worth it -- and were deciding whether to run as Independents or set up the new party.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's brother Conor speculated about both prospects today as he described how the party has gone into "meltdown".

In an article for today's Herald, the junior minister suggested that a new party could be formed before the election.

"The unthinkable has already occurred. It is not beyond the realms of imagination that some may consider establishing a new party called New Fianna Fail," Mr Lenihan said.

"Brian Cowen has not a shred of credibility left. Respect for the office of Taoiseach has been shattered," he writes.

The party was facing into the prospect of dropping below 10pc in the polls.

Former deputy leader Mary O'Rourke said: “In my book, it's all gone too far and it's every man and woman for themselves. Get out and get what votes you can.”

Mr Lenihan, meanwhile, accused the Taoiseach of “a catastrophic disservice to politics” and says the attempted reshuffle “has effectively wrecked the Fianna Fail party”.


There is a growing fear that the party could now slump behind Sinn Fein and even the newly formed United Left Alliance on polling day.

Party members are concerned that another motion of confidence in Mr Cowen could completely tear the party to shreds.

They want the “men in grey suits” who backed Mr Cowen to confront him now.

Former ministers John McGuinness and Willie O'Dea both called on those who supported Mr Cowen earlier this week to “talk” to him.

Mr O'Dea expressed disbelief that senior Cabinet ministers hadn't advised the Taoiseach against his reshuffle plan which he described as “a grubby stroke”.

Mr McGuinness said: “There were various suggestions made about the need for a parliamentary party, the need for a further heave and they were talking about the need for collecting 18 names in the corridors.”

Fianna Fail and the Green Party were barely on talking terms today after essentially accusing each other of telling lies.

Green leader John Gormley said that appointing six new ministers would have been the “final insult”.

The Government has only days to reunite as it faces a motion of no confidence in the Dail on Tuesday.

Today Eamon Gilmore said that Labour will press ahead with the motion, even though the general election has been set for March 11.

Mr Gormley was unable to say yet whether his TDs would even back the Government in the motion before the Dail.

TDs who publicly backed Mr Cowen in the past week were also disillusioned by the reshuffle fiasco last night.

One Cowen activist told the Herald: “He's gone too far, got over confident.

“It's going to be a bloodbath for Fianna Fail now. I don't see how we can recover from the humiliation.”

Another welcomed the calling of an election date.

“One way or the other this needs to end. We stumble from one crisis to the next. Put us out of our misery.”


An even angrier backbencher said: “What the f**k, why didn't he run it by them (the Greens). It looks like stroke politics.”

As the row between Fianna Fail and the Greens deepened even further today, Green TD Trevor Sargent claimed that his party leader, John Gormley, warned the Taoiseach that new appointments would go down like a “the proverbial lead balloon”.

In a spat on RTE's Morning Ireland, Government chief whip John Curran said the Greens never indicated that they wouldn't vote for a new Cabinet.