Micheál Martin shows his hand

Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s ‘back me or sack’ challenge to his party has drawn out his first serious challenger.  The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Micheál Martin, has tendered his resignation  and has said that Fianna Fáil should change its leader before the Irish General Election.

From the RTÉ report

[Micheál Martin] said that he has reluctantly concluded that Fianna Fáil should change its leader before the General Election.

He welcomed the Taoiseach’s announcement this evening to table a vote of confidence in his leadership.

However, he said he will be voting against the vote of confidence and has offered his resignation to the Taoiseach.

He said the continuing decline of the party was a reason for his offering his resignation. Latest opinion polls, resignations post Christmas and the absence of direction of late has led him to the move. He said ‘survival of the party is at stake’.

He said low morale within the party and unhappiness amongst the public was also a reason.

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party’s secret ballot on a vote of confidence in Brian Cowen is due to take place on Tuesday.