Brian Cowen will have to face down another potential heave from his backbenches, this time over the issue of a directly-elected mayor of Dublin City.
Fianna Fail’s backbench TDs and local councilors are against the Green Party-led proposal, which would change the mayoral role from that of a mere figurehead to one with real executive powers. Meanwhile, the former Taoiseach, and the man who was ousted by Cowen, has heaped more trouble on his successor by siding with the backbenchers and calling the proposed new mayoral position ‘non-job.’
Cowen’s personal approval rating is at an all time low, behind both Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Eamon Gilmore of Labour. This has not been helped by his recent appearance on a radio news programme in which he sounded tired and hoarse, leading opposition politicians to accuse him of being drunk on air.
Worse for Cowen, a number of Government supporters, including Galway West TD Noel Grealish and perennial rebel Mattie McGrath TD, of South Tipperary, have announced that the Government can no longer rely on their support in crucial parliamentary votes. While neither pulled their support for the Government completely, their statements, coming in the same week, is seen as a blow for Cowen’s government and a narrowing of its majority.
Meanwhile, the Green Party is intent on moving forward with the legislation for the Dublin City mayor. A spokesman for the party leader and minister for the environment, John Gormley, said, "The Dublin mayor has been agreed twice by the government partners, in the June 2007 Programme for Government and in October 2009. "We're confident it will be implemented."
The Green Party legislation on the mayoral change is said to be nearing completion.