Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael Martin, is now the bookmakers favorite to succeed Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, as the leader of the Fianna Fail party. Speaking to Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, he confirmed that he would be “interested” in the position.
He said “There are many people within the party who if the situation arose would be interested in the leadership and I would be one of those."
This comes as Mr Cowen is under pressure from his own backbenchers to step down from the party before next years election. Fianna Fail backbenchers have said that they will support tomorrow’s Budget but was a new leader at the head of the party. The Party face losing a huge number of seats at the General Election proposed for early 2011.
Similarly, Martin has said that he will support the Prime Minister and get the budget passed. He said “I’m supporting the Taoiseach in implementing the policies that are before us and that is the position. Anything else isn’t relevant in terms of what the country needs.”
Mary Hanafin, Minister for Arts, has also expressed a desire to be the party’s next leader.
It is also believed that Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, is interested in the position but has not publicly declared his interest. He has said that he will run in the election despite the fact that he suffering from pancreatic cancer.
A disastrous poll last week showed that Fianna Fail have just 13 percent and stand behind Sinn Fein in popular support. Backbenchers in Fianna Fail are now hoping to persuade Mr Cowen to step down.
Mr Lenihan’s aunt, Mary O’Rourke said Mr Cowen’s wife should tell him “it’s not worth it”. She said “How can you envisage a general election with a leader at that percentage?...I envisage myself in Mary Cowen’s boots... saying: ‘Listen, Brian it’s not worth it.’ And he saying: ‘You’re right.’
"I don’t think within himself can he have any good feeling about the party the way it has all turned out for him," she said.
However, Defense Minister, Tony Killeen said that he had “no doubt” that Mr Cowen would lead the party into the election.