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Martin elected leader of Fianna Fáil

Former minister for foreign affairs Micheál Martin has been elected as the new leader of Fianna Fáil, the Irish Times reports Wednesday.

Martin won a secret ballot of the parliamentary party to become the eighth leader of the party, which Éamon de Valera founded in 1926.

According to unofficial estimates, Martin received 32 votes in the first round of voting, followed by Éamon Ó Cuív, the founder's grandson, on 15 votes, Brian Lenihan on 14, and Mary Hanafin on 10.

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Earlier, Taoiseach Brian Cowen was given an ovation at the meeting by his party colleagues.

Ahead of the meeting Martin said he was confident of succeeding Cowen.

Some 26 TDs made public declarations for Martin. He said he was satisfied from talks with colleagues that more than half the parliamentary party would back him in the vote. None of the three other candidates – Brian Lenihan, Mary Hanafin and Éamon Ó Cuív – was prepared to concede victory yesterday.

All pointed to the large number of TDs who have not made their views public – 33 in total – and one pointed to the “vagaries of the secret ballot.” All four candidates addressed a meeting of the parliamentary party last night that was dedicated to the leadership “hustings."

All spoke for 15 to 20 minutes, each setting out how they will deal with the critical situation the party is in as it faces into the general election, as well as addressing the longer-term challenges facing the party. All accepted the party will be going into opposition for at least one Dáil term.