Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is set to stage a cabinet reshuffle after the resignation of five ministers over the past two days. This dramatic situation has made many question whether this is a political stunt which might improve Fianna Fail’s chances in the general elections later this year.
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and Minister for Defense Tony Killeen all stated last night that they would not contest their position in the upcoming election. These followed the resignation of Minister for Health Mary Harney and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin.
Opposition parties are now calling these resignations a “cynical stunt” claiming that this situation provides Cowen with the opportunity to promote junior ministers and backbenchers. It is being seen as a way of improving the parties chances in the election, due to take place in March.
Fianna Fail’s coalition partner, the Green party, have reacted angrily and speculation is mounting that they may pull their ministers and trigger and immediate election.
Green party MP, Paul Gogarty, told the Financial Times “For this to happen at the eleventh hour, five minutes to midnight, is putting Fianna Fail’s interests first rather than the country’s and I think a lot of people will think this is the final straw.”
Phil Hogan, from the Fine Gael party said “He is seeking to use ministerial office and the fruits of that for electoral purposes for some Fianna Fail deputies to give them a late leg up in order to see will it give them a chance to get re-elected…Its cynical, its very undemocratic and it’s an attempt by the Taoiseach in the dying days of this administration to try and reconstruct his government and give them little political advantage.”
A Fianna Fail backbencher has said that this move could backfire on Cowen as it comes just days after a threat to his leadership by winning a vote of confidence within his own party.