Heave, ho?

After a number of false alarms (take your pick), it appears that Brian Cowen may now be under fatal pressure as Taoiseach as his parliamentary party meets at 3 pm today, at which his immediate future may be up for discussion (yet again).

Having had to deny any impropriety around his game of golf with Sean Fitzpatrick, formerly of Anglo Irish Bank, he appeared to have just about kept his head above water in the Dáil yesterday.

That was until Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, leader of Sinn Féin in the Dáil (and benefiting from the technical group formed with Finian McGrath and Maureen O’Sullivan), asked him about the others who had attended. Cowen, it appears, had bumped into various members of Sinn Féin, including Deputy Ó Caoláin, who were attending a wedding in Druids Glen on the same day. At that point, Cowen had to admit that others connected to Anglo Irish Bank also met with him for dinner that day, a fact he had, up to now, neglected to mention. His defence that Anglo had never been discussed that day just doesn’t seem to fit with the profile of those he met (indeed, paradoxically, it would be odd, appropriate or not, if they hadn’t discussed the bank).

What happens next is up to the Fianna Fáil group meeting at 3 pm today. Rumours were swirling around of various senior figures meeting in Dublin last night with an attempted heave on the cards today. Apparently there is also a 3.30-4 pm gap in the diary up in the Phoenix Park this afternoon, if it is needed (where that would leave the budget required to keep the IMF and the vig-charging EU happy isn’t exactly clear).

Expect lots of twitter and other chatter today, but will there be blood?

Update: Vincent Browne (on TV3) has revealed that tomorrow’s front page of the Daily Mail will carry claims by David Drumm that Cowen did try and intervene with the NTMA on behalf of Anglo (contradicting Cowen’s own accounts).

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  • Drumlins Rock

    John, would this be yet another false alarm? or just a slow burning fuse?

  • andnowwhat

    And they never discussed Anglo?

    Reminds me of the day I met Jordan and she never discussed her tits

  • pippakin

    Perhaps for all the whispers there are no serious challengers? I’m not sure anyone really wants the job, whoever leads FF to what will likely be their greatest electoral defeat, will be tarred with both the past and the loss. If however Cowen takes them down then whoever takes over after will have a clean slate.

  • John Ó Néill

    DR – I actually believe, if left to it, neither the Greens nor FF have any inclination to an election and can string it out to the autumn. But there is more to this than meets the eye. The DPP was passed the file on Anglo a week or so ago. Suddenly, what appears to have been a pre-prepared offensive has opened with Seanie Fitzpatrick and David Drumm, the two main Anglo players, suddenly putting their heads back above the parapet for the first time. Presumably the game is that they manage disclosures to hurt FF (particularly Cowen) in the hope that they lever enough pressure to avoid any serious charges. There are whispers that Drumm is lined up with some of the Sundays (presumably Sindo) to sling some serious muck.
    While no-one in FF appears to have the gumption to take Cowen down (when he appears ready to be toppled by any decent tilt), it is hard to imagine that he can withstand much more. Even gaffe prone governments and premiers end up being put of their misery. Cowen is beginning to make Gordon Brown look slick.

  • Nunoftheabove

    More opportune, surely, from an FF p.o.v. to allow Biffo to stay until the election and then clear the decks after the fan’s been hit and start anew – who’d want the gig this side of an election anyway ? FF won’t be short of chancers on the sidelines ready to reinvent/regroup in opposition and Cowen wouldn’t be the first goat on these islands to have had the sins of the party/country heaped upon them and then sent into the desert to perish by former colleagues.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Cowen is beginning to make Gordon Brown look slick.’

    Beginning ?

    Bertie the Teflon Taoiseach and now Brian the Velcro Taoiseach. I wonder what’s out there that’ll stick to the next one ? Gilmore has already got Stickie lined up but what of Edna the other one ?

  • joeCanuck

    Pippakin and Nunoftheabove are right. It would be better if they went down under Biffo than someone else taking the blame. And, as the saying goes, he who wields the knife….
    They need to take the shellacking (H.T. Obama) and then rebuild.

  • Greenflag

    @ joe canuck,

    You might think that Joe and it makes sense but there is another school of thought within FF that a new leader going into an election (even one where losing is a foregone conclusion) needs to be bloodied in the hustings and may even help to arrest the number of seats lost . At least a new leader would convey the determination to eh ‘rise ‘ again. Holding onto Cowen could be seen as ‘defeatism’ writ large .

    I’ll not be surprised if Michael Martin leads FF into this next election . Lenehan’s high profile and closeness to Cowen has probably cost him a tilt at the leadership for now . There is a consensus growing behind Martin which may force the issue next week . A new face will give some hope to the FF ground troops and the electoral campaign may be enlivened somewhat ? It won’t be a turn around for FF but it may avert a complete meltdown . If Brian Cowen leads them going into this election -a meltdown is almost assured .

    I can’t see a new leader making the situation for FF any worse .

  • andnowwhat

    I agree with Pippa and Joe too. Thios election is lost for them. There is nothing they can do about that so why taint whomever the new leader would be?

    I think the smart thing would be to call the election ASAP, take their medicine and take a few years to rebuild the party.

    Sadly, Cowen, the ever Gordon Brown type figure, really is not getting the message and (again like Brown) is damaging his party day by day.

  • joeCanuck


    What you say is a very valid POV too. Bit of a toss up.

  • John Ó Néill

    @ Bit of a toss up.

    I think you’ve all hit on the dilemma facing FF TDs – there are a lot selection conventions this weekend, many may be using those to test the water as to which option to take. Be interesting to see if they don’t select any sitting TDs.

  • Greenflag

    @ Bit of a toss up

    FF are in what’s called the Polish predicament . I’m reminded of the old Warsaw joke as war clouds gathered in August 1938 . Two Polish army officers were having a beer in a restaurant and Jerzy says to Stanislaw’

    ‘Let’s toss a coin to see who’ll win the war ‘ said Jerzy
    ‘ How can you tell ? ‘ said Stan
    ‘Well if it lands on heads -the Germans will win and if it lands on tails the Soviets will win ‘ said Jerzy

    ‘Is there any chance that we Poles can win ?’ replied Stan somewhat dejectedly .

    ‘Oh yes ‘ beamed Jerzy . ‘We’ll win if the coin lands on it’s edge 😉

  • pippakin

    Bit of a toss up.

    In some ways, most FF ‘families’ probably ‘know’ the core vote has not dropped as far as the OPs suggest. All the thin lipped “I’m going to do what I always do” assertions will have given us a hint (to say the least), there is a definite air of wagon circling going on. But, if they change leaders now the new leader will have to defend the budget and much of the past which would be a vote loser from the start.