independent

Tuesday 12 December 2017

'I will chair meeting but back Taoiseach'

PARLIAMENTARY PARTY CHAIRMAN BEHIND COWEN

Conor CULLEN

THOUGH he has been cast as a member of Fianna Fáil's growing band of disgruntled and disaffected TDs in certain quarters, Deputy John Browne says the Taoiseach still has his support.

Chairman of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, the Enniscorthy TD will chair a high-profile meeting today (Wednesday), where former Minister of State John McGuinness is seeking support for his call for Taoiseach Brian Cowen to step down.

The meeting, which had been due to take place at Leinster House yesterday ( Tuesday) evening, was rescheduled to avoid a clash between the meeting and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan's Dáil speech on the bank rescue plan.

However, Mr Browne, who didn't hide his disappointment at his demotion from Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture to the backbenches in May 2008, said he won't be backing any move to oust Mr Cowen.

'I will chair the meeting and listen to what people have to say, but the Taoiseach has my support, there's no question of that,' said Mr Browne.

During the latest Cabinet reshuffle last week New Ross TD Seán Connick promoted to Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, restoring ministerial representation – albeit among the junior ranks – to Wexford.

Mr Browne pointed out that while this was welcome it still leaves Counties Wexford, Wicklow, Waterford, Kilkenny and Carlow without representation at the Cabinet table, a situation he feels needs to be rectified.

It is also expected to be one of the arguments that will be put forward by Mr McGuinness, from Kilkenny, today.

In order to table a motion of no confidence in Mr Cowen, Mr McGuinness would require the support of 17 other deputies under rules introduced in the early 1990s requiring the signatures of 25 per cent of the party's TDs for such a move.

Meanwhile, Gorey Fianna Fail Councillor Malcolm Byrne has said that there shouldn't be a heave against the Taoiseach Brian Cowen 'just for the sake of it', but questions should be asked of the government's performance.

'There's certainly the view that the Taoiseach is not communicating effectively enough,' he said. ' Brian Cowen is a very bright man, and very capable, but at times, he seems to be pretty poor at getting his message across.'

'To be straight with you, I was disappointed with the reshuffle. He could have been a lot more radical, and put a better team in place,' he added.

'I think Brian Cowen needs to listen more and communicate more effectively, but there's a general view out there that if there's a choice between Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, Brian Cowen wins hands down.'

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