Martin replaces Cowen as FF leader; Finance Bill passes
Martin replaces Cowen as FF leader; Finance Bill passes

Former minister for foreign affairs Micheal Martin has been elected as the new leader of Fianna Fail to replace Brian Cowen.

Mr Martin won a secret ballot of the parliamentary party this afternoon to become the eighth leader of the party.

According to reports, Mr Martin received 33 votes in the first round of voting, followed by Eamon O Cuiv on 15 votes, Brian Lenihan on 14, and Mary Hanafin on 10.

After Ms Hanafin’s votes were reallocated, Mr Martin had 36, while Mr Lenihan and Mr O Cuiv had 18 votes each. On elimination of Mr Lenihan, the final result was 50 votes for Mr Martin and 22 for Mr O Cuiv.

Immediately after his election as Cowen’s successor, Mr Martin returned to the Dail chamber where he took a seat on the party’s front bench.

Several Opposition politicians crossed the floor of the Dublin parliament to shake his hand and congratulate him on taking the leadership, just two weeks after he spearheaded a failed heave against Cowen.

Mr Martin will lead Fianna Fail into next month’s general election, when it is likely to suffer a historic defeat, according to polls.


Earlier in the day, the outgoing government’s controversial Finance Bill passed through its second stage in the Dail after receiving the tacit approval of both Labour and Fine Gael.

The bill passed by 80 votes to 77 with the support of the Green Party and independents Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry.

Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty described the Bill as the “depressing end-product of a government whose political career spans some of the most disastrous economic policies ever witnessed”.

“The politics that created the current economic mess cannot bring us out of it,” Deputy Doherty said.

“That politics is the politics of both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael - it is the politics of cronyism and inequality.”

He said the government had “failed to protect the vulnerable and, most importantly, in terms of ensuring economic growth, they are penalising rather than rewarding working families.

“Even worse is that the hundreds of thousands of working families whose efforts drive this economy have all but been abandoned in this bill - they have been condemned to endure higher taxes and more stealth charges, all to fund the policies of failure.

“We, unlike Fianna Fail, the Green party, Fine Gael and Labour, realise that you cannot reduce the deficit by adding to the dole queues; you cannot stimulate the domestic economy by cutting incomes; you cannot claim to represent the best interests of people by facilitating the passage of a savage Finance Bill.

“The charade this week by Fine Gael and Labour highlights their contempt for the people of this State. The Government is in minority. A motion of no confidence would have been the straw to break the camels back. We would have gotten the general election that the people of this State need. So, why the sense of urgency to push through the Finance Bill, when they are so opposed to it?

“It would be funny if the consequences were not so devastating.

“The people of this State want change. They don’t want tweedledee substituted for tweedledum. There is no room for this type of politics in Ireland anymore. We can’t afford it.”

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