Cowen To Discuss Election After Vote Win

Irish Premier Brian Cowen has won last night's vote of confidence in his leadership, but is not yet out of trouble as he meets to discuss a date for the upcoming election.

Some 71 Fianna Fail TDs in the Fianna Fail parliamentary party voted by secret ballot at a meeting last night. It is believed the backing from Mr Cowen's close associate and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and from the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan was instrumental in the positive outcome for the Taoiseach.

However, it emerged this morning from outspoken party backbenchers that both Mr Lenihan and Ms Coughlan also figured in the attempts to remove Mr Cowen.

Following the announcement of the result, the Foreign Minister and Mr Cowen's main challenger Michael Martin announced his resignation from the cabinet, saying of his failed challenge that "one has to make a stand".

"I came to my personal conclusion after Christmas that a certain course of action had to be taken. One has to make a stand. One has to force the issue.

"It has been a very healthy debate and good debate."

Responding to the vote this morning, Mr Cowen said he was "happy" with the confidence shown in him.

But the difficult times are not over as today the Taoiseach meets with Green Party leader John Gormley to discuss the timing of the next general election, which is due in the coming months, along with a timetable for passing the Finance Bill and outstanding legislation.

It's widely believed that Fianna Fail will have a very difficult election as they face growing criticism over their handling of the financial crisis.


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