Ministers desert Cowen’s Restaurant at the end of the Universe…

Just in passing Brian Cowen’s government appears to be in free fall as four members of his cabinet have added their resignations to that of Micheal Martin. All of them were retiring from the Dail at the next election, and therefore have nothing to lose from their actions.

Update: Dempsey’s just said on Morning Ireland, Cowen asked for his resignations. So it is a stroke. Or an attempt at one. Un-named FF backbencher has said its probably safer where he is than on Cowen’s front bench after a re-shuffle…

Auntie Mary was already ‘not pleased’ with Mary Hanafin, she’s been keen to steady backbench nerves and get them to back their beleaguered leader. Mary Harney’s decision drives a cart and horses through those (admittedly rather hastily laid) plans.

There’s some speculation on Politics.ie that with these guys going there is some kind of cunning plan afoot to promote five new ministers from back benches into the cabinet. I think that underestimates the generally cautious approach of the Taoiseach, and (see Miriam Lord’s advice in today’s Irish Times) his political vulnerability.

It seems more likely that he’s the one this uncompromising message is aimed at. His performance at Leaders Questions today shows little awareness of the extent to which belief in his leadership has drained not alone from his political rivals, but from his own party:

He seems more intent on putting into action a pre-planned offensive against Labour (note it’s peppered with multiple references to Gilmore’s history with Democratic Left), rather than doing what his party wants him to do and communicate why he’s been making these tough decisions.

Not to mention expressing some human understanding of what those decisions mean to the citizens of the country.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty