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Martin resigns after bid against Cowen fails

Fianna Fail leadership contender Micheal Martin last night dramatically resigned from Cabinet after Taoiseach Brian Cowen survived as party leader.

But Martin's longer-term chances of becoming leader were significantly strengthened by his efforts, the Irish Independent reports.

Major faultlines emerged for a bitter leadership battle after the election when Finance Minister Brian Lenihan sparked an angry backlash by weighing in behind Cowen.

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Fianna Fail and the Green Party will today discuss the timing of the general election as the pressure mounts on Cowen to set a date for polling day. Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin did not tell colleagues whether she would be supporting the Taoiseach or not as she said she was voting in accordance with her conversations with Cowen. After opposing Cowen's leadership, Martin tendered his resignation as Foreign Affairs Minister bringing an end to almost 14 years in Cabinet. Dick Roche, Peter Power and Martin Mansergh are among the frontrunners to replace him.