Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Irish PM Brian Cowen quits as Fianna Fail leader

Brian Cowen is standing down as leader of Fianna Fail, but will remain head of the Government until the election
Brian Cowen is standing down as leader of Fianna Fail, but will remain head of the Government until the election

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has insisted he had no regrets after dramatically resigning as leader of Fianna Fail.

After an epic week of political chaos sparked by a failed leadership heave, six ministerial resignations and a botched Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Cowen bowed to an onslaught of pressure and criticism from former allies.

The Taoiseach plans to stay on as head of the coalition Government until the March 11 general election, and said he would consult with his family before deciding whether to stand.

Mr Cowen told a hastily called press conference in Dublin that renewed internal criticism of Fianna Fail was deflecting attention from important debate on the future of the country.

"Therefore, taking everything into account, and having discussed the matter with my family, I have decided on my own counsel to step down as leader of Fianna Fail," he said.

Mr Cowen refused to discuss whether he had any regrets. "I've made a big decision today. We are talking about the future of our country. We will have plenty of time to talk about the past."

He maintained he had not been in touch with senior party figures in relation to his decision, but had been given time and space to make his own mind up.

"It was only when I went home last night and had a discussion with my family and made a political assessment of the situation taking everything into account," he revealed.

Mr Cowen said he still believed it would be better if the position of Taoiseach was filled by a party leader, but declined to name who he believed should succeed him. He also stressed he wanted to reassure the public that the Government would still do its business despite his resignation.

In a short statement, the Green Party said its TDs and Senators have discussed Mr Cowen's decision to resign as leader of Fianna Fail and remain as Taoiseach and will meet on Sunday morning to consider the situation.

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