Cowen stands down as Leader of Fianna Fáil

But stays on as Taoiseach…  RTÉ live coverage hereAdds See Mick’s earlier postAnd  Brian Cowen’s statement


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  • Coll Ciotach

    And so we see the politics of the sick counties in perspective. The alliance party is having its conference, but compared to this it is a “so what”

  • Just because he wasn’t asked to speak at the AP conference and Enda was 🙂

  • Drumlins Rock

    Will this delay the election?

  • Greenflag


    It might expedite it . How can one have no confidence in Biffo as party leader while retaining confidence in him as Taoiseach.
    FF TD,s once again on the horns of several dilemmas .While March 11 is 50 days away -they could have a new FF leader within 4 days and it’s not absolutely necessary for FF to pass the Finance Bill . If all sides wanted it there could be a new government up and running before mid February .

    Michael Martin is well placed to succeed as Lenihan seems to have shot himself in the foot by his earlier support for Biffo in the confidence vote .

    Congrats to the AP on their conference and their winning over of new recruits for their ’cause’ . I suspect they’ll have a better Assembly election than most here seem to feel .

  • Drumlins Rock

    are alliance having a conference? never noticed with all this Biffo fuss…
    Surely even FF have rules about electing party leaders that takes longer than 4 days, rather democratic in this day and age!

  • dwatch

    GF: ‘Congrats to the AP on their conference and their winning over of new recruits for their ’cause’ . I suspect they’ll have a better Assembly election than most here seem to feel .’

    Biffo will always be very welcome to join the Alliance party

  • Fionn

    so Nevin you think someone who supported Cowen in a secret ballot which he won with 66% of the votes will lose to someone who was the cheerleader for the other 33%, go figure.

    Will people who supported Cowen now vote for the enemy or for a Cowen supporter

    If 6 of the cabinet hadn’t resigned Cowen would be still there, its the tail wagging the dog at the moment,

  • Fionn, I expressed no opinion on the FF beauty contest.

  • Fionn

    “Michael Martin is well placed to succeed as Lenihan seems to have shot himself in the foot by his earlier support for Biffo in the confidence vote”

    Sorry Nevin, I mistook that opinion as an opinion……

  • Now if only Margaret Ritchie and the SDLP had flirted with Fianna Fail she could have been a contender. Beg pardon? It’s as fantastical as Brian Cowen believing he can remain as Taioseach.

  • Munsterview

    I have consistently made a number of predictions here.

    1) That Martin was not caught offside, he moved systematically and carefully, as indeed he always did all his political life. I continued to say that when the smoke cleared, he would be seen to be in a better place. Is he ?

    2) I said that he would do enough and push as far as he could to stake a claim without alienating Cowens core supporters or Cowen. Contrast his persona with that of Conor Lenihan who, however much he deny the fact, he is seen as ‘his brothers keeper’ boot boy and general kite-flying messer. Who has the most senior statesman status inside the FF party now ?

    3) Michael’s campaign is up and running, the press is looking to him as the leader in waiting. Connor Lenihan got the OTT three pages in the Evening Herald. Most true FF’s see that as a betrayal to Fine Gael in a Free State paper. That will be wrapping this evenings fish suppers takeaways. Martin will have the real headlines across to-morrow’s sundays.

    He has gone over the heads the would be chiefs directly to the party fateful, they will instruct their TD and TD’s cannot afford to alienate the rank and file.

    4) Martins campaign is the only one with traction and a brisk forward momentum. It is not in the bag yet but as he did just enough to stake his claim and no more, this head start momentum by monday evening, will probably have done enough too to make his position un assailable, and like Jack Lynch before he can do his reluctant leader bit with dignity and conviction while his opponents are grubbing around for votes

    There is a grave in a North Cork graveyard that will get a visit after mass to-morrow as the local party fateful will say a prayer for his tragically killed former adviser / organizer and and Martin. They will also go away with a quite smile. If she was at his side, he could not have handled things better to-date.

    Just like I said he is where he wanted to be, given the situation that he found himself in. Vintage Micheal as all who know him would agree !

  • Fionn

    MV, still think it’s fairly even between Martin and Lenihan, but Lenihan is far to much off a ‘cute hoor’ so unless he grows a pair very soon it’ll prob go to Martin, but I won’t put any money on the race at this stage

    And if only Ritchie and Co had held Labours hand they could have a foothold in the Dail

  • Munsterview

    My info from his support camp is that he has pledges into the low thirties already !

    If so the momentum will continue and the others are really fighting for No 2.

    You are correct that nothing is certain. However this time there are no goodies to factor in, people will be voting for party and future, not perks and merks. In these circumstances unless there is another big surprise, then he is far enough ahead of the pack to stay there.

    We may even know by to-morrows evening news. However Martin will probably still go for a contest rather than a coronation.

  • consul

    Lowry and Healy Rae may sink this government on Wednesday. If the Green’s want to force the country to endure this sham for seven more weeks let that be on them. March 11 is a joke.

  • dwatch

    Can the Greens not cause an instant election if they all walk out of government?

  • “Sorry Nevin, I mistook that opinion as an opinion……”

    There’s a simple explanation, Fionn: it’s Greenflag’s opinion 😉

  • Munsterview

    dwatch : ” Can the Greens not cause an instant election if they all walk out of government?…”

    Yes indeed they can and there is some very informed speculation that they are prepared to do just that. They have emerged from the last week with some credibility and gratidute.

    This may be as good as it gets for them with the possibility of another GUBU springing up at any moment over the next forty days. It is now down to hour by hour.

    A journalist spend Friday preparing a story and went into the office in the evening only to find that it had been made redundant by by what a world weary McMillian referred to as ” Events, dear boy, events”

  • dwatch

    Like you say MV its an hour now, not a week is a long time in politics. RTE NEWS: ‘Greens to consider next move’
    Updated: 07:30, Sunday, 23 January 2011

    ‘The Green Party will announce later today whether it intends to remain in Government after Brian Cowen’s resignation as leader of Fianna Fáil.’

  • Greenflag

    Earlier in the week our ex FF party leader made a comment re Labour’s ‘confidence ‘ vote next Tuesday -stating that even FG thought it was stupid and Labour should withdraw it ?

    It now seems that that motion may be the one to finally pull the plug on this government or will the Greens beat the Labour party to the knock out punch ?

    March 11 suddenly looks too far away .

  • Munsterview

    Brian Lenihan has just declared and his press conference is ongoing. He has also made history in that he is the first Fianna Fail leader, or would be leader, since 1926 that acknowledged Fianna Fail were fighting a National election on the proposition that they would not be in power and that the Dail needed a strong opposition.

    Oh yes, one more thing, he was a latecomer to Government, the economic mess had already started and the economic meltdown had nothing to do with him personally. Victim of circumstances etc. Looking to the future and not the past

  • Greenflag

    @ nevin

    The opinion which is not your opinion 🙂 is not just Greenflag’s opinion -It is shared by some 54% as against 19% for Lenihan, and less than that for Hanifin and O’Cuiv (Dev’s grandson)

    Some of FF’s longest standing enemies are hoping for an O’Cuiv victory in the hope that the irony of grandson finishing off the party established by the grandfather would have a certain fin de siecle ‘Gotterdammerung ‘ about it 😉

    Looks like we’ll have a Blair/Brown result in FF with a Martin/Lenihan carve up or so it seems at this hour .

  • wee buns

    WHY, can somebody explain, are FG/Greens hell bent on passing the finance bill before an election, when they know the people are against it, and the terms of the deal with the ECB need to be renegotiated?

  • pippakin

    If there is an election before the finance bill is passed then if it passes as it currently stands whoever is in government will be held responsible. It is not possible to condemn it and pass it and remain credible.

  • Munsterview

    Wee Buns : no problem with that !

    For Fianna Failed, this is the morning after the night before and the part must be paid for. They have signed up for loans and these are conditional in certain domestic measures being taken. FF crony capitalists embarked in squandermaqnia and blew it all. That financial black hole must be filled and they can only do so without hitting their own crony monied class by grabbing as much as possible from as many as possible.

    They have taken levies from the blind and other pensions, from the unemployed and the lower paid. A Baltic Country immigrant cleaner in The Superior Courts cleaning a High Court Judges Chamber already on minimum wager have been levied and now will have a euro reduction in minimum wage.

    Some of these Fianna Fail crony appointed High and Supreme Court judges with the benefit of personal ‘ fetch and carry’ tipstaff servants have made no contribution what-so-ever to the levies, constitutionally they cannot have their pay levied or reduced so they have sat in their well cleaned chambers attended by their body servants and gave a two fingers up to the rest of up to the rest of us.

    These are the same people incidentally that tut,tut and express their daily disapproval a builder waste and selfishness.

    Fianna Failed are attempting a damage limitation with this bill for their own crony financial class, if the Finance Bill is not passed then Labour will take it apart and insist on a different levy system that will hit the crony finance base harder.

    Fianna Failure are in effect putting through sixty billion of tax avoidance measures to tide over their friends as they leave office.

    The Greens have several pet bills that they want passed and with them it is simply horse trading……or has been up to-day, they back Fianna Failed in return for Fianna Failed supporting their bills regarding climate change etc.

    There is now a strong possibility that the Greens will now pull the plug and who knows where we are then

  • Greenflag, I note that the tweet @ is creeping into intelligent exchanges on Slugger. Surely it’s time it was added to the banned list. :@ can indicate anger – or a doggy nose 🙂

  • 241934 john brennan

    To be fair to Brian Cowan, we have to give him credit for playing fair with the North, while getting little political credit for that in the South.

    e.g. last Friday he came to the North/South ministerial council in Armagh – instead of staying in Dublin, with a better chance of protecting his own back.

    While at Armagh, he confirmed the South’s commitment to financial support for upgrading roads to Derry and Larne – and also to the proposed Narrow Water Bridge at Carlingford. I take it these were government, as opposed to party, commitments.

    I may be wrong – but I have not heard any similar commitments from the North’s present government.

  • “he confirmed the South’s commitment to financial support”

    John, surely an incoming government isn’t bound by the decisions of the current disintegrating one.

    I can see no mention of the Narrow Water Bridge in the 2011-2015 DRD budget but there’s this:

    “However whilst Roads Service has a significant allocation, around £790 million (or 70% of it) is tied up in two major road schemes – the A5 between Derry and Aughnacloy and the A8 between Belfast and Larne.

    The Department acknowledges the Republic of Ireland’s contribution of £400 million towards the A5 and A8 schemes (of which £274 million is scheduled for this Budget period). However the overall reduction of 40% in the Executive’s Spending Review settlement, and the scale of these schemes, means that that there are no allocations to commence construction on other major roads schemes ..”

    The budget goes on to list other schemes that have been postponed beyond 2015.

  • Greenflag

    @ Nevin ,

    I am alas illiterate in twitterspeak – I have failed to rise to the attractions whatever they may of twitterdom . I am sure that for some it’s a useful tool but alas I cannot warm to the medium . This may change on my part but it probably would require a machine gun being prodded threateningly at my avoirdupois and even then I might refuse .

    I have interpreted the @ in it’s original web site meaning as ‘at’ or ‘to’ . It’s a little less abrupt than Nevin/Mick /Driftwood etc and it conveys the sense of being mainly ‘directed’ at an individual rather than the generality who may have little or no interest in the exchange but at the same time does not exclude them from chipping a bon mot or unique witticism into the thread . No ‘anger’ or ‘doggie nose’ is implied by GF’s use of @ . I’m not committed to it’s use or non use but we’ll see whether it catches traction or no soon enough .

    I cannot see Dear wee buns, or Dear munsterview or Dear drumlin rock, or Dear pippy ever taking off here on slugger 😉
    nor would I want to 🙂

    Likewise addressing someone as for example ‘the bollix los leandros ‘ is unlikely to be conducive of a rational response although some would say it would’nt matter either way 😉

    In medio tutissimo ibis -as Ovid used to say but then that was before motorways and the internal combustion engine .

  • Munsterview


  • pippakin

    It looks like the Greens have finally made a decision. This debacle has not shown them in a good light. No doubt they will pay for their dithering at the polls.

  • Munsterview

    Another fine mess indeed !

    If Brian Cowen plays ball with the opposition and is prepared to be humiliated and berated constantly in the Dail, he can get another week, two or possibly three at very most.

    Brian Cowen is a proud man personally and he must think of the good of the Fianna Fail party and damage limitation.

    He must weigh the unreadiness of Fianna Fail for an immediate election against a daily crucifixion every day what is now a Fianna Fail minority lasts. No more Green Fig leaf, if is Fianna Failed out there plain, open and in full view.

    All this guff about passing the Finance Bill do not make sense to the backbenchers or councillors, they would be quite happy to leave the incoming Labour /FG Government or whatever combination to have that budget bill hanging around their neck rather than their own Fianna Fail ones.

    In short it is a loss of some days campaigning if he calls the election now or a an even bigger loss of seats if the farce continues. Personal pride and Party preservation dictates a trip to the park to hand in his Governments resignation.

    The Greens are gone this evening and when the FF parliamentary party members have had time to consider their options overnight and start to contact the party whip, I would be very surprised if the Fianna Failed element of the Government are not gone by to morrow evening.

  • Fianna Failures – the political face of ‘crony capitalism’ ..

    “Ireland is a small country where everybody knows everybody else. Yet the failure to observe even sensible precautions in avoiding the dangers of crony capitalism is still a major feature of the corporate landscape.” ..

    Can we expect Northern Ireland to be that much different?

  • Coll Ciotach

    Brian Cowen is to retire on Feb 25th

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : ” Can we expect Northern Ireland to be that much different?…..”

    Nevin I will take that question as sincere as I hope you will my response as I am not point scoring with it. A lot of my English friends are Old Fabians. One who retired and died here was a former long serving member of the British Communist Party exectuive for years before he ‘lost the faith’ and retired here.

    I an afraid that I did his reputation no good in the eyes of his friends as through his association with me, he returned to religion in his final illness and was buried with the full rites of the Church Of Ireland !

    In the months prior to his death I spend a lot of time in his company and he was visited regularly by people in the Old Hard English Left, many of these were household names and I sat in through many a nights discussion where the powerstructures of England were dissected and discussed.

    Surprisingly he was also visited by Tory Mill and other business owners that he had opposed and negocated with over the years. The last straw for him was when he recrutid the entire 1,700 workforce of a mill only to have his union head dismiss them as ‘Fing Pakies’ and literaly throw the applications into a barrell.

    The mill owner invited him back and he worked with the mill owner, workers and staff to set up an ‘in house’ assocation that became a model through out the area. The structure was Islamic and it meant these workers were encultured out of rather than into English Labor Movement.

    Irish cronyism and patronage of the old Nationalist Party type transferred into the Free State totally excluding anti threaty people from any participation in the State. Dev came in and included Fianna Fail while excluding Republicans and it is only now that Sinn Fein have a relistic shot at political power in the Southern State.

    In the North and in the and across the water there is the same insider traiding and corruption. However in the North as in England, Scotland and Wales, this money/power controol convergence has been going on since the Norman Invasion and the whole panolopy of power/finance is hidden and layered.

    The same applies in the North, the old power structures linked back, not to the monarchy but the Crown remain intact. The same cronyism prevail but it is much better caounflaged and the money is not spend in Novu Palaces nor do you get mature men setting up mistresses in coffe shops and facilitating grants etc like happened down here.

    You are lucky to have no major scandals, just a funny handshake and things discretely done the way it always was.

  • Michael Hennigan: “The system of local clientism gives citizens the illusion of access to power but it’s the vested interests who have the power in the Irish system.

    If the new government does not implement radical change and emulate the best in the small well-run countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, then the destiny for Ireland is a return to long-term high unemployment and emigration.”

  • Munsterview

    Coll : ” Brian Cowen is to retire on Feb 25th…..”

    Clarification, context and sources please !

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : ““The system of local clientism gives citizens the illusion of access to power but it’s the vested interests who have the power in the Irish system……”

    Clientism is about two things, getting people their entitlements……. and what they are not entitled to.

    I was contacted last week by a person who had a regular additional disability payment disallowed because the forms were a day late when received. The person concerned was snow bound and could not get out to a doctor to get the necessary medical signature. the application was rejected.

    I was approached by the person concerned on the possibility of taking legal action. The money was already spend and needed to be refunded. Instead I advised going to a a local TD as under the present circumstances they would act to preserve every last vote.

    The payment was sanctioned following the TD intervention and paid two days later, having been refused in ten previous phone calls. While there is this degree of bloodymindness in the Public Service there will be Clientism…. and a need for clientism

    The problem however is most people use clientism not to get what they are entitled to, but to get what they know that they are bloody well not entitled to !

  • Coll Ciotach

    Munster – just say reputable sources
    From Cork of all places

  • Munsterview


    Makes sense : if I were in the FF backroom that would be my thinking too. From here on in it is all about party and perception. FF cannot have either enhanced in the Dail.

    As to the doubling of portfolios, the perception is many taking a double were struggeling with the single one they already had !

    As an observer I was impressed by the way that the Greens blamed Fianna Failed and presented all the problems as arising from Fianna Failed internal fracturing. Nice one John.

    Anyone will not begrudge Brian Cowen his ‘few hours off on Sunday’ but was it a good idea to be seen on tv at a football match while the Greens were taking a walk and the country was in a state of political upheval?

    In the words of Gormly about the attempt to appoint the replacment members,” it send out all the wrong signals”.

    Or is it a case of ” Who the F cares” for Brian at this stage ?

    Interesting that Brian Lenihan described himself as quote ” the strongest challanger to Micheal Martin” ! Is this an implicid acknowledgement from Lenihan that Martin is ahead of the pack ?

  • Thanks, MV. Local insights are helpful. Unfortunately, I can’t always make full use of the information that comes my way.

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : Info overload…… we all have the same problem !

  • Comrade Stalin


    (talking about the Greens and their imminent pullout)

    Yes indeed they can and there is some very informed speculation that they are prepared to do just that. They have emerged from the last week with some credibility and gratidute.

    You’re not terribly consistent. You spend a lot of time railing about FF and what bastards they are, and how you “gave your life” opposing them. How can you argue that the Greens, the people who have been shoring up the discredited and thoroughly incompetent administration, have credibility or gratitude ? They should have pulled the plug a long time ago.

  • Munsterview

    There is nothing inconsistent in my attitude or observations. In fact if my posts of the last two weeks are taken on the round I have been ahead of events and in the general area of developments in my predictions.

    1) The general public in the South Were heartily sick of this government and have been for quite some time.

    2) The greens by forcing an election date for the first time put a definite end in sight.

    3) The fixing of a definite date recently they gave a certainty and a clarity to everyone.

    4) To day by with drawing from government they considerably restricted Fianna Fail wriggle room to the extent that it now seems likely that despite the ‘need’ to pass the finance bill, Brian Cowen will fold, possibly even before the Dail resumes.

    Whatever of the Greens overall record these were four positive steps and on poling day they will get some gratitude for that. Attempting to write objectively about the evolving situation down here do not make me a Greens supporter no more than having an appreciation of grass roots Fianna Fail culture and showing something of its ethos makes me a closet Fianna Failed supporter.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There is nothing inconsistent in my attitude or observations. In fact if my posts of the last two weeks are taken on the round I have been ahead of events and in the general area of developments in my predictions.

    Clearly, cultivating a pseudonym public persona is very important to whatever sense of self-importance you get out of writing your thoughts here, but I wish you would stop, it would probably trim about half the crap out of your self-aggrandizing blowhard contributions and help to make them a lot more readable.

    Whatever of the Greens overall record these were four positive steps and on poling day they will get some gratitude for that.

    Okay, so you think that the Green’s role in propping up this rubbish administration for a YEAR– or more – longer than necessary and subjecting everyone to the attendant misery – with all those lovely tax raises and charges set to kick in under the Finance Bill that they have committed to support – will be set aside against the fact that they essentially acted to bring the election date forward by ONE WHOLE MONTH ? I suggest you don’t take up pseophology as a day job.

    Attempting to write objectively about the evolving situation down here do not make me a Greens supporter

    I didn’t say you were a Greens supporter, it’s stinkingly obvious from your other contributions that you want SF to do well. I don’t have the memory of a goldfish.

    no more than having an appreciation of grass roots Fianna Fail culture and showing something of its ethos makes me a closet Fianna Failed supporter.

    Amusingly enough, though, you saw it fit to call me an FF apologist the other day despite knowing full well where my own loyalties lie because I criticized your contributions. It’s funny when the shoe is on the other foot, even when it isn’t.

  • “lucky to have no major scandals, just a funny handshake”

    MV, when the stories broke down South about FF folks and developers my reaction was, “Could it happen here?”. Within a short period of time and after a little bit of digging I concluded that our planning process was rotten to the core. Not so long ago I was approached by SF councillors to publish details of a project they were promoting. I offered to do so if they would give me the name of the developer. I’ve had no follow-up reply. Quite a few of my stories on NALIL blog have featured developers with links mainly to the DUP but also to the UUP.

    I take it that by funny handshakes you are referring to Masonic Orders. I should imagine that their culture is deeply ingrained. We also now have a more leftest version, Common Purpose, being promoted by none other than our top Civil Servant. The Chief Executives Forum contains our Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives of publicly funded companies and organisations as well as the Watchdogs who are supposedly acting in the public interest. The recent NI Water shenanigans have flushed out a few emails which have shown up some of the cosiness which can’t be in the public interest.

    I suspect a more active MSM and our Stormont committees could have revealed more corruption than they have. The threat of litigation and pressure from London and Dublin to ‘accommodate’ the ‘good’ paramilitary godfathers have most definitely not created a culture of lawfulness. As a friend put it to me some years back, “Who could you trust nowadays?”.

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : In regard to you having no such scandals, I was being ironic !

    Wherever there is an interface between political power and ‘people who get things done’ (money) corners will be cut, accommodations reached etc. That is inevitable.

    Early in my political experience I was involved in a situation where Sinn Fein resisted an evection by a builder who had bought lands for development and he wanted to demolish a lived in family home already on the lands for no other reason than it lowered the tone of his proposed new development.

    The family barricaded against the sheriff and guards and where supported by Sinn Fein. We all were prepared for and expected to be arrested. We got a visit from a local iconic figure the son of a man who was a National name from the War of Independence.

    He took me to oneside and informed me that people who were involved in the project, while Fianna Fail were from a good republican family and were significant contributers to the The Republican Prisoner fund. These monies were quietly gathered by senior retired Republicans who established their own networks and most were also business men.

    I heard what the envoy send to ‘talk sense to me’ had to say and then I said to him ” Go back to the committee and tell them we will do exactly as your father would have done in these circumstances. Now you tell me what he would do in this situation ? ”

    It was not easy to take the same man aback but that did, he came in thanked us for what we were doing, and shook hands with me in leaving. That was my first insight and it was not the last where the ‘young guard’ clashed with the old pragmatic Republicans.

    The wheel came full circle and I became one of these old pragmatic Republicans my self, who in turn had to deal with young idealists and try to strike a balance between a local event and the “big picture’ and used that event in such circumstances to show the different interfaces that had to be accommodated.

    I haven given some thought to how this clientleism culture could be ended in a way that restores dignity to the citizen and removes patronage from the politicians. In Southern Government most Ministers have ‘Program Managers’ who see to it that agreed party policy is implemented and civil service obstacles are overcome.

    If regional empowered Indapendent Offecials were appointed in the same basis to ensure citizens rights this would immediately change the balance to the citizen. At present any member of the Sourtern Civil Service will not get in trouble for withholding entitlements, they will for being too accommodating !

    A quarterly publication of such cases would illustrate the sheer bloody mindness of what ordinary people have to go through as part of their daily grind and bring these things out from behind closed doors.

    Where rights are legally vindicated and the State has to pay out damages, they then top up the damage payment with 40% upwards of the ammount conditional on the ammount of case settlement terms being disclosed to keep the veil of secrecy over their workings.

    This would change the ethos of the civil service also as if they did not do what they were supposed to do, they are in effect unaccountable unless a client is prepared to take the the legal route via Judicial review. It they do while the dispute monies or services may only amount to a few hundred euros in value, the state apparatus will spend hundreds of thousands protecting the Department and officials involved.

    I am aware of one case involving a minor taken unlawfully into care. It took five years for the mother concerned to get a finding from the courts that she had no case to answer and that her child had been taken into unlawful custody. That cost the Southern State well in excesses of five million pounds in dozens of Superior Courts cases in a Civil Service damage limitation exercise where the concerns of the child were of minor concern.

    We need a new way of doing business North and South on this Island.

  • MV, your Program Managers sound a little like our Special Advisors aka SpAds. Perhaps it’s time we had a good look at the role and influence of SpAds here.