Dublin: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen
on Sunday announced he won`t resign despite intense criticism of
his management of the country`s European-record deficit and
its international bailout.
Cowen`s declaration follows several days of talks with
lawmakers in his Fianna Fail party. Many wanted him to quit
immediately so that a new leader can lead the party into a
spring election that, under Cowen`s leadership, it is widely
expected to lose.
But in a trademark defiant performance, Cowen said he
instead would mount a motion of confidence in his own
leadership on Tuesday at a meeting of party lawmakers.
He said he wasn`t willing to wait indefinitely for one or
more of his Cabinet colleagues to mount a direct challenge to
Cowen said he was confident of winning the secret-ballot
vote and lead Fianna Fail to a seventh straight election
Fianna Fail, which means "soldiers of destiny" in Gaelic,
has governed Ireland almost continuously since 1987, but has
plummeted to historic lows in recent opinion polls.
Cowen`s determination to stay leaves unsettled the
question of whether his government will survive long enough to
pass the emergency deficit-slashing legislation required by
the USD 90 billion bailout from the European Union and
International Monetary Fund.
Fianna Fail rivals could quickly pursue a no-confidence
motion to try to oust him. Among those who have publicly
voiced a desire to replace Cowen are Finance Minister Brian
Lenihan, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin and Arts and
Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin.
Cowen rose to power in 2008 as Ireland`s 13-year Celtic
Tiger economic boom was giving way to a property-market
implosion and banking crisis.
He has faced rising accusations in recent weeks of making
decisions that benefited corrupt bankers far more than
taxpayers, who have been burdened with a bank-rescue bill
expected to top USD 65 billion.
The pressure for Cowen`s removal flared last week when a
new book revealed that Cowen held several dinners and social
events, including a day long golf outing, with top bankers in
the weeks before his government decided to insure all of the
borrowings of Dublin banks, an internationally unprecedented
move at the time.