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Conor Lenihan: General Election will be over and done with in February

The Greens have finally made their exit from Government.

Faced with the chaos of Leinster House last Thursday who could blame them?

The damage done by Brian Cowen's failed ministerial appointments has been enormous.


The Government parties arguably needed more time to set out their election stall.

The Greens, notwith-standing last week's events, were good coalition colleagues. They toughed out the difficult decisions on the economy in a way other smaller parties would not have done.

Their determination to support the Finance Bill is to their credit.

Hopefully, this week will see agreement by the three main parties on a timetable for the bill.

The General Election will be over and done with before the end of February.

A new government will hopefully restore some semblance of order in Leinster House and confidence in the economy.

The Fianna Fail leadership contest is important.

If Fine Gael and Labour get a large majority out of the election there will be a need for a strong opposition.

The Fianna Fail contest looks like boiling down to a two-horse race -- Micheal Martin versus Brian Lenihan.

Mary Hanafin cannot be discounted entirely if TDs view a woman leader as someone that might unbalance both Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore.

My own exit from the leadership contest was based on the wide choice open to TDs and the fact that most TDs had made up their mind by the early part of the week end.

I was pleasantly surprised by the willingness of some deputies to accept the notion of a generational shift in the leadership. I have decided not to publicly disclose my voting intention so that I can be of service and use to whoever wins out in the contest.

Micheal Martin has shown great courage and professionalism in the crisis of the past week.

Equally Brian Lenihan has stayed the hard course as Minister for Finance over the past two years.

Both are good candidates and will carry the message well for the party in the election campaign.

To repair the damage of the last week will require resolution and new ideas to fire up the election campaign.

A new leader for the party will put fire in the belly of our activists who perform better when their backs are to the wall.

Conor Lenihan TD is a Dail deputy for Dublin South West and Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation