herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

We’ve no confidence in you, Brian

REBELS RISE UP: Now FF deputies draft a motion to oust their own leader

FURIOUS Fianna Fail backbenchers have scripted a motion of no confidence in Brian Cowen.

The Taoiseach remained under intense pressure today despite defying expectations that he would resign.

As fresh allegations about Mr Cowen's conduct as Finance Minister emerged today, TDs continued to “consult widely” about a heave.

A source told the Herald: “Brian Lenihan is aware that a motion of no confidence has been drawn up. TDs contacted him last night to ask for his support.”

Within hours of Mr Cowen's address to a parliamentary party meeting, a small number of well-known rebels made a series of phone calls to gauge support for the motion.

“The numbers are not there yet because most TDs want to reflect on recent events, but we would expect that over the weekend there will be more than enough signatories,” a TD said today.

However, they still want a Cabinet member to lead the charge. “It shouldn't all come down to backbenchers,” said a source.

SERIOUS

At least one TD was set to approach Mr Lenihan to ask if he would resign from Cabinet, thereby forcing the Taoiseach to take serious action.

“People are unsure what to make of Mr Cowen's offer to take part in a listening process.

“He could be buying time so he can resign on his terms or he could be trying to divide and conquer,” said a source.

Fianna Fail officials have sent a text message outlining the process for backbenchers who want to consult the Taoiseach about their concerns.

“For those who would like to organise a meeting with the Taoiseach, please contact [name and phone number]. Regards FF Press Office,” read the message.

The Herald understands that none of the leadership contenders spoke during the short discussion on Mr Cowen's position at yesterday's parliamentary party meeting.

His own speech was described as “low key”.

“The climate change debate was more heated,” said a source.

Mr Cowen was asked if the consultation with TDs was a formal process but replied: “Just call me.”

Tom Kitt asked the Taoiseach to table a motion of confidence in his leadership but the Taoiseach refused. However, further revelations today are set to cause new problems for Mr Cowen who has been quick to deny allegations from disgraced banker David Drumm.

In an interview, the former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive has claimed that Mr Cowen lobbied the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) in an effort to have millions pumped into Anglo Irish Bank as the crisis was unravelling in 2008.

Reacting to the claims, Minister Eamon O Cuiv said that “no such proposal was brought to Government”.

He also claimed that none of the leadership contenders – Brian Lenihan, Micheal Martin and Mary Hanafin – have expressed any lack of trust in Brian Cowen.

The Minister for Social Protection called on any Cabinet member who had lost faith in the Taoiseach to resign.

“As a member of the Cabinet appointed by Brian Cowen it would be absolutely incorrect for me to stay in Cabinet if I didn't have confidence in Brian Cowen.

“If you're a member of Cabinet, you're selected by the Taoiseach and if you didn't have confidence of that Taoiseach you should resign,” he said on Newstalk Breakfast.

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan tweeted: “I'm no defender of Cowen but I'd be very very wary of anything David Drumm has to say.”

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