Labour to table motion of no confidence

Friday 14 January 2011 22.15
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Eamon Gilmore - Coalition is 'politically dysfunctional'
Eamon Gilmore - Coalition is 'politically dysfunctional'
John Curran - Government will refuse Labour's motion
John Curran - Government will refuse Labour's motion
Mary Hanafin - Gave her views to the Taoiseach this afternoon
Mary Hanafin - Gave her views to the Taoiseach this afternoon
Conor Lenihan - Some Fianna Fáil members want a new party leader
Conor Lenihan - Some Fianna Fáil members want a new party leader
Micheál Martin - Called on Fianna Fáil members to have their say
Micheál Martin - Called on Fianna Fáil members to have their say

Labour is to table a Dáil motion of no confidence in the Government.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore has said that the coalition is clearly divided, politically dysfunctional and incapable of leading the country to economic recovery.

Mr Gilmore was asked why the motion was directed at the Government and not Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

He answered by saying that the issue was not individual performance but about a Government that could not get the country back to work.

Fine Gael has criticised the Labour motion of no confidence in the Government as ‘ill-advised and badly timed’.

A party spokesperson said that at a time when Fianna Fáil is in turmoil over the leadership issue, 'they have been offered a chance to unite'.

He said the motion could actually prolong the life of the Government, given that the Green Party has said it will continue to support the Government until the passing of the Finance Bill.

Government Chief Whip John Curran has said he intends to refuse Government time for Labour to table its no confidence motion.

Mr Curran said he would refuse the motion because the time was needed to deal with legislation vital to the country's economic recovery.

Meanwhile, Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív has become the latest Fiánna Fáil TD to thrown his hat into the ring for any possible leadership contest.

Speaking on Raidió na Gaeltachta, Mr Ó Cuív said he would be interested in becoming a candidate for the leadership of Fianna Fáil, if that was the wish of his party's grassroots members.

The others to express an interest in the position are Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism Mary Hanafin and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin.

Ms Hanafin has said that there is some unease among people within Fianna Fáil about the leadership of Brian Cowen.

The Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport spoke to the Taoiseach about the issue this afternoon.

Earlier, Ms Hanafin said that the consultation process between Mr Cowen and members of the parliamentary party is important but should be quick and finalised today.

She said it was not in anyone's interest to have the process 'carrying on' over the weekend.

However, the Taoiseach is to resume contacts with members of his parliamentary party about the Fianna Fáil leadership tomorrow morning.

A spokesman for Mr Cowen said he had discussed the issue with a ‘substantial’ number of members during the course of the day.

Most of the contacts were made over the phone and some in person.

The Taoiseach said that once the process was completed, probably by tomorrow evening, he would decide what was in the best interests of the party.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan, has said he has not yet formed a view about whether Brian Cowen should continue to lead the Fianna Fáil party.

But, speaking on RTÉ’s Six One, Mr Lenihan said amongst those both inside and outside his constituency that he had consulted with, the majority view is that it is appropriate for the party to change its leader.

Mr Cowen has not yet consulted Mr Lenihan about his views, but Mr Lenihan said he has sought a meeting with the Taoiseach and hopes to speak to him in the next 24 hours.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan has said she supports the leadership of the Taoiseach, but she agrees with Minister Hanafin that Mr Cowen's consultation process should be concluded as quickly as possible.

Ms Coughlan said there was a process in place in Fianna Fáil if anyone wanted to challenge the leadership, but so far this has not happened.

She said Mr Cowen would make his own decision following his consultations and it would be in the best interest of the party.

Sinn Féin's Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has welcomed the tabling by the Labour Party of a motion of no confidence in the Fianna Fáil/ Green Government.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said prior to the election of Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin called on Labour and Fine Gael to support their motion of no confidence in the Fianna Fáil/ Greens Government, but both parties chose not to do so.

FF problems causing Govt instability - Gormley

Green Party leader John Gormley has said difficulties within Fianna Fáil are causing instability in Government, which he said is 'the last thing this country needs at the moment'.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin welcomed the Taoiseach's consultation process and urged Fianna Fáil members to have their say on the future of the party.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O'Keeffe has said he has seen no indication that any of his ministerial colleagues want to challenge Mr Cowen.

Mr O'Keeffe said he was happy that a 'very large majority' within the party still supported Mr Cowen fully and he said he believed Mr Cowen would lead the party into the General Election.

He said he would expect any Minister who has lost confidence in Brian Cowen to say so openly and it was 'common sense' that any Minister in that position would have to leave the Cabinet.

Further Anglo Irish Bank revelations

There have been further claims in today's newspapers about Mr Cowen's relationship with Anglo Irish Bank.

The bank's former chief executive, David Drumm, alleges in the Irish Dail Mail that Mr Cowen urged the National Treasury Management Agency to bailout the bank in April 2008.

However, a spokesman for the Taoiseach has rejected the claims and said they have 'no basis in fact'.

The spokesman said: 'The claim had previously been discredited by no less a person than Michael Somers on public radio, that he never received any political representations seeking to encourage him to deposit money in Anglo.

'The Taoiseach on the floor of the House also stated that he had no recollection of requests of this nature, and an extract from a recently published book on the topic suggests something different.'

Mr Somers, the former NTMA Chief Executive, has told RTÉ Radio that Mr Cowen did not put pressure on him to deposit money in Anglo.