Belfast Telegraph

Cowen denies resignation reports

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has rejected claims he intends to resign after Budget 2011 is unveiled.

Mr Cowen insisted he had given no indication to party colleagues in Fianna Fail that he would step aside to allow a new leader to fight the imminent general election.

He outlined his intentions after claims from one of his backbenchers that he was set to go before Christmas.

Kildare South TD Sean Power told local radio station KFM it was his understanding that the Taoiseach would not be at the helm when the party faces the electorate in the new year.

Ahead of unveiling the coalition Government's four-year plan to make 15 billion euro in savings, Mr Cowen rejected the notion.

He told the Dail: "I have given no such indication to anybody, including Deputy Power."

Mr Power is the latest Fianna Fail backbencher to break ranks and question Mr Cowen's position since the multi-billion international bailout of the state's debt-ridden finances was announced.

But while Mr Cowen has faced criticism from some in his party, high-profile Cabinet colleagues have remained publicly loyal and no leadership bid has materialised.

Members of Fianna Fail held a crunch meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crisis but the Taoiseach's position was not challenged.

While Mr Cowen has indicated his intention to call an election after the budget is passed, he has steered clear of specific questions about the poll, insisting that focus should remain on the spending plans.

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