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Fianna Fail TD calls for Cowen's replacement

A dissident Fianna Fáil backbencher has predicted tonight's meeting of the parliamentary party will be a “bareknuckle affair,” and repeated claims that Brian Cowen should be replaced as leader, RTE reports.

Cork North Central TD Noel O'Flynn said yesterday that Cowen had done tremendous damage to the country and should go.

Today, he said he was sick of having to face people and felt humiliated, betrayed and frustrated by not having known International Monetary Fund intervention was on the way.

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He said he would sign any motion of no confidence, but Tom Kitt, another dissident backbencher, has told RTÉ he is not collecting signatures with a view to ousting Cowen as leader.

The Dublin South TD said that he will tell the meeting that the Taoiseach should seek a fresh mandate as leader after the Budget.

Others opposed to the Taoiseach share that view.

Earlier today, Mary Hanafin gave a clear indication she would be interested in contesting the leadership of Fianna Fáil if a vacancy arises in the future.

Speaking in Dublin this morning, the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport said there was no heave against Brian Cowen and she said she would not be part of any such move.

She said, however, that if the leadership was to become available in the future she would throw her name in the ring if members of the parliamentary party felt she had something to offer.

The minister insisted there was no indication of any such move at present, as the Government was clearly focused on the country's economic recovery

She also said that she is not convinced that the Green Party has the best interests of the stability of the country at heart.

Hanafin said she was annoyed by the manner in which the party had called for an election yesterday, something she said was not expected.