Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Cowen vows to lead party to polls

Embattled Irish premier Brian Cowen has defied his critics and said he will lead his party into the March General Election and beyond

Embattled Irish premier Brian Cowen has defied his critics and said he will lead his party into the March General Election and beyond.

Despite growing signs of discontent in his Fianna Fail party, and continuing disputes with his Green Party coalition partners, he said he believed he had survived the controversy.

He remained under pressure after a botched Cabinet reshuffle left him unable to make the fresh appointments he had planned and pushed his Government to the brink of collapse.

But after meeting Northern Ireland ministers for a pre-planned round-table gathering in Armagh, he said minds should now focus on the March 11 poll.

He said: "There was controversy yesterday, yesterday is past." Asked if he should now resign, Mr Cowen said: "Of course not. I have the support of my party, as confirmed by democratic decision last Tuesday, to lead this party into this election and beyond. That is what I intend to do."

Mr Cowen rejected claims that his Green Party coalition partners had weakened his position by blocking his attempt to mount a cabinet reshuffle in the face of an imminent election.

He said: "The authority of my leadership remains, but what was involved was a refusal by the Green Party to support my entitlement and right, as I saw it, based on the conventions of coalition governments, to put my team into the field for the fighting of this next election.

"I will now obviously do that by the establishment of my own new front bench to deal with that issue and to prepare and fight those elections. So that issue is over."

He said the Irish Government was continuing to do its work.

The Taoiseach added his Fianna Fail party would face into the General Election "with the same determination as characterised previous campaigns when we changed how we were being viewed".

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