Brian Lenihan, Minister for Finance, has publicly announced that he plans to back Prime Minister Brian Cowen in his secret vote of confidence at the party meeting on Tuesday. It is believed that his could throw a spanner in the works of Micheál Martin’s plans to oust the Prime Minister from leadership.
It is believe that Lenihan’s move will swing the decision of his allies in the party who may then support Cowen. This could meant that Martin’s hopes of becoming the leader of the party before the election my be quashed.
This will also allow Lenihan time to prepare a leadership bid in a post-election setting.
A source told the Irish times that Lenihan’s move would “have the effect of alienating Martin and his side”.
It’s believed that Lenhan has a group of 12 TDs who will follow his lead.
Transport Minster Noel Dempsey and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern have both pledged that they will vote in favor of Cowen.
Although the number voting in favor of Cowen appears to be growing Martin continues to be confident that the numbers will be tight. Speaking to the Irish Examiner he said a change of leadership was urgently required to give Fianna Fáil a chance of having a "critical mass" in the next Dáil.
"It’s about giving the party a chance to campaign effectively in the election so that we have a significant parliamentary party in the next Dáil [Parliament]."
He added that “the very future of the party is at stake".
Cowen continues to maintain that he is the right person to lead the party in to a general election despite the fact that the party scored just 14 percent support in the latest opinion polls.
Speaking to RTE on Monday evening he said “We’re in a fight and we need a fighter to lead Fianna Fáil into the general election, to put the Fianna Fáil record straight. And I want to lead that fight. I think I’m equipped to do it."
The vote will take place on Tuesday evening at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting at 5.30pm.