Brian Cowen, Prime Minister of Ireland

Brian Cowen told reporters that he is not a Taoiseach “on probation,” as two prominent Fianna Fail backbenchers claimed he should step down and rumors grow of a heave by Brian Lenihan.

Cowen made the statements on the steps of Government Buildings in Dublin yesterday, the same day that Ireland was forced to sell a tranche of ten-year bonds with a much higher interest repayment, meaning more pain for the Irish taxpayer.

Meanwhile, he continues to reject accusations that he appeared drunk on an Irish radio program the day after a major Fianna Fail fundraiser in Galway.

When Cowen was asked if he intended to resign he said, “No, I have the full support of his colleagues I’m grateful for that.”

“I’m not a Taoiseach on probation,” he later said. “I’m the elected leader of our party.”

Standing beside Cowen was Brian Lenihan, whose leadership aspirations are the subject of much debate again, having resurfaced after he had quashed the initial flurry of rumors about his intention to overthrow Cowen.

While Lenihan stood on the steps of Government Buildings in a show of support for his Taoiseach and Cowen claimed he had the support of his Government colleagues, two prominent backbenchers have suggested he should move on.

Tom Kitt of the Dublin South constituency said on RTE Radio that “the time has come to move on to new leadership.” Michael Kennedy of Dublin North later publicly supported Kitt’s call.