Belfast Telegraph

Cowen and Lenihan show unity amid revolt

By Fionnan Sheahan

Taoiseach Brian Cowen was last night forced to get Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan to put on a united front to quell a Fianna Fail backbench revolt against his leadership.

The apparent show of strength from the party's two leading figures was also intended to reassure international markets amid accusations that the political uncertainty was causing Ireland's cost of borrowing to rise.

Ahead of an important sale of government debt today, Mr Lenihan, who has been mooted as a potential leader, said the most “important rumbles” were those on the markets.

But Mr Lenihan later added to the air of confusion by giving out what were regarded as mixed messages within Leinster House.

Mr Cowen gave a coherent performance as he said he was “not a Taoiseach on probation”.

He made the same statement to the Fianna Fail party three months ago on the last occasion that he aimed to shut down dissent in the party ranks over his leadership. His announcement from the steps of Government Buildings came after Fianna Fail TD Tom Kitt became the first party figure to publicly call for Mr Cowen to resign as he called for new leadership of the party.

Mr Kitt's call for a party meeting to debate the leadership issue was backed by Fianna Fail TD Michael Kennedy, but rejected by the party hierarchy.

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