Cowen calls for confidence vote

26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen is to precipitate a vote of confidence in his leadership at Tuesday’s meeting of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party.

The move comes after Cowen came under unprecedented pressure to resign over his previously undisclosed contacts with the chief of the fraudulent Anglo Irish Bank -- which was subsequently bailed out by the state -- and ahead of the upcoming General Election.

Mr Cowen said it was in the best interests of the country and the party that he remain as party leader.

After two days of consultation with colleagues, Mr Cowen said he had come to the conclusion that stepping down would lead to “confusion and loss of authority”.

“As Taoiseach my total focus must remain with discharging my duties to the people,” he said.

“For Fianna Fail the party is important but the interests of the country are paramount.”

Mr Cowen said he had no considered resigning.

“No. I made no indication of resigning at any time as leader of the party,” he said.

The Taoiseach accepted there was “an issue” over leadership but said that question should be resolved quickly.

Commenting on the move, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams again called for an early general election.

“The question of who leads Fianna Fail is a matter for Fianna Fail but the question of who governs the state should be for citizens to decide.

“The obvious divisions within this government, the failure of leadership by the Taoiseach and Cabinet, and the bad decisions and policies being pushed through in the Finance Bill, have stripped this government of any authority.

“The longer it stays in power the greater the damage that is being done to the economy and to our international reputation. This government should go.”

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