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Was Brian having a 'Morning Ireland Moment' with reshuffle?

WAS on-the-brink Brian Cowen under the influence of a 'Morning Ireland Moment' when he decided to try to pull off a Cabinet reshuffle?

That was the question on many politicians' lips today as punch-drunk Cowen appeared blind to the chaos around him.

The Taoiseach was "listening to nobody" and not taking advice from his key figures, senior Fianna Fail members revealed.

Former junior minister John McGuinness today described Mr Cowen as "deluded".

He accused him of "poor leadership, poor communications with the Greens and bad management of the Dail agenda" after yesterday's political chaos. Many Fianna Fail insiders feel Cowen must have been undergoing another Morning Ireland-type moment when he opted for a reshuffle against all the odds.

"Brian was groggy on Morning Ireland and it's been asked all over Leinster House, could he have been similarly affected after his leadership contest win in the parliamentary party," said one leading backbencher today.

Former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said Fianna Fail was facing something worse that electoral annihilation after "a grubby stroke".


The Limerick TD said that the disastrous reshuffle attempt had caused a "mixture of bewilderment, shock and anger".

He called on people who backed the Taoiseach on Tuesday "to bring about a change".

"Now it's really up to them. If they want to make a move, naturally I'd support that. If people want to go and talk to the Taoiseach, that might be a neater solution," he said.

Backbenchers were stunned by what they described as Mr Cowen's "arrogance" and "self-importance" yesterday.

One TD told the Herald: "I just think he doesn't listen to people."

In an unprecedented scene yesterday, a group of TDs, including Micheal Martin and Brian Lenihan, openly spoke about their disgust with the Taoiseach yesterday.

One group gathered just outside the Dail chamber where they discussed the possibility of a no confidence motion, despite knowing journalists were within earshot.

One of Mr Cowen's most outspoken critics John McGuinness explained afterwards: "People were rallying to Micheal Martin, asking what next, what should we do?

"We were shocked and annoyed over what had happened. We were contemplating what we should do next and the fact that we were still debating the previously."

Mary O'Rourke, who backed Mr Cowen in the leadership vote, said the election will now be a referendum on the Taoiseach.


Even in Mr Cowen's native Offaly activists appear to have lost faith in him.

One local canvasser told the Herald: "I can't believe what he's done. We have fought tooth and nail for him for years. He pulled it back from the brink early in the week and we thought it was a fresh start. Now it's worse than ever."