The Taoiseach has said he has given no indication that he plans to stand down after the Budget.

He was responding to comments from one of his backbenchers who claimed Brian Cowen would resign before Christmas.

Seán Power, who is a long time critic of Mr Cowen, told his local radio station KFM he understood that the Taoiseach would step down after the Budget.

The Kildare South TD said many ministers had privately said to him that Brian Cowen would not lead Fianna Fáil into the next election and that was the view of the vast majority of the parliamentary party.

However, pressed by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore in the Dáil this morning, Mr Cowen said he had given so such indication, adding there were democratic processes in his party.

The Taoiseach's response will do nothing to quell speculation about his intentions as a General Election looms early in the New Year.

Speaking on KFM, Mr Power said that Mr Cowen has failed as Taoiseach.

Deputy Power said the Taoiseach is 'very defensive' over the actions he has taken and has shown very little humanity and has failed to apologise for his leadership.

He said at no time during the parliamentary party meeting last night did the Taoiseach indicate he would lead Fianna Fáil into the next General Election.

The TD said the people have had enough of Mr Cowen, a leader who has lost credibility.

He said Mr Cowen has not connected with people and has failed to lead the country as is required.

He added that the emphasis at last night’s meeting was on getting the Budget passed, he said the vast majority of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party do not want Mr Cowen leading them into the next election.

Deputy Power said some ministers have not been convincing when speaking about the possibility of Mr Cowen continuing as party leader.

He described last night's parliamentary party meeting as open and honest, and said despite what is being reported in the media, a number of people expressed criticism and were keen to deal with the leadership issue in time.

Deputy Power was speaking to Clem Ryan on KFM Radio.