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Conor Lenihan: Why our party leader's job is not for the faint-hearted

THE leadership crisis in Fianna Fail is finally over.

In the aftermath of the four-way contest, thought is now on the election.

There is now a ready acceptance, hindsight is a great thing, that it should have been dealt with earlier.

Those that suggested it was too late to change leader now understand why they were wrong.


Micheal Martin has settled in well in what is an extraordinary challenge for any leader to find himself in.

His opening press conference and media appearances have been self-assured.

In particular, his clear and understandable apology for the mistakes he and the Government made has been received well.

Brian Cowen might have fared out better had he sounded the same note of contrition early on.

Martin, for his part, looks relaxed under the microscope of the TV camera.

In his Prime Time interview with Richard Crowley, Micheal Martin created a strong and reflective image.

The new Fianna Fail leader has also indicated he is no pushover when it comes to the election.

Martin has robustly challenged other party leaders to one-on-one live debates and a series of three-way TV discussions.

He is right to challenge all comers.

To date Fine Gael handlers have been steering Enda Kenny away from tough interviews.


Martin is now telling them, in the boxing ring of politics, you can run but you cannot hide.

Different stations, including Sky News, have now entered the fray pushing their own formats.

The Sky News bid offers the prospect of an international audience and the chance to deal with issues around how Ireland positions itself in the world.

Micheal Martin had to roll up his sleeves yesterday and get straight into the difficult task of candidate selection.

In some constituencies, too many candidates may mean splitting the vote and ending up with no seat.

This kind of work, given the egos involved, is not for the faint-hearted.

On the doorsteps in Dublin the voter response can vary from downright hostility to a more polite expression of non-support.

In the middle-class areas there is a real fear that the left and Sinn Fein may have too much influence over the next government.

On the other side, public servants are becoming a little nervous about Fine Gael's plans to cut and downsize them more.

Conor Lenihan TD is Dail Deputy for Dublin South West, as well as Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation