Candidates launch campaigns


Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin have formally launched their campaigns for the leadership of Fianna Fáil following the resignation of Brian Cowen .

Mr Cowen has said he will remain as Taoiseach until the election. However, Opposition parties have said this is untenable.

The Green Party said this afternoon it was pulling out of Government with immediate effect.

Launching his candidacy in Dublin today, Mr Lenihan admitted his party had made mistakes in the economic management of the country.

“I have done my level best over the last two and a half years to put matters back on track. In my view, one of the reasons why mistakes were made was because of our reluctance to face up to difficulties and our anxiety to please various sectional interests.”

Mr Lenihan said he could meet the physical demands of being party leader and had received assurance from his medical advisers in relation to his health. Mr Lenihan said as leader he would work with other parties to bring about a radical transformation of Irish politics.

Mr Lenihan is one of four senior politicians seeking to gather support for their bid for the leadership of Fianna Fáil party today after Taoiseach Brian Cowen stepped down from the role yesterday.

Ms Hanafin also launched her leadership bid today in Dublin, saying said she was not asking deputies to publically declare their support for her. "I would love to lead a party that was renewed, that was new, to have members who felt very proud to admit that they were members of Fianna Fáil.

Questioned about whether the party's TDs would come out and support her publicly, she said Mr Martin had a lot of public support. "I'm specifically asking that people will not come out and declare because I don't think that's necessary."

She will be proposed by Minister for Community and Family Affairs Pat Carey and seconded by Maire Hoctor Tipperary North. "I think that's the perfect balance of the Cabinet and the backbench, the urban and the rural, the male and the female. Asked if Fianna Fáil is ready for a female leader, she said she was ready to lead  if the party accepted her.

"This is a party, this is a country that is divided evenly 50:50 male and female. We should never have a situation where the largest political party in the country is presenting a team of four men to contest the leadership."

Yesterday, minister for foreign affairs Micheál Martin and and Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív put their names forward for a party vote to be held on Wednesday.

Minister of State Conor Lenihan said this evening he will no be putting himself forward.

Mr Cowen’s position became untenable on Thursday after Green Party leader John Gormley said he could not vote in support of new ministerial appointments Mr Cowen was proposing to make.

Mr Ó Cuív last night revealed his aspiration to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Eamon De Valera, the founder of Fianna Fáil who was the country’s first taoiseach and third president of Ireland.

“I have a certain view of what the party should stand for, has stood for, and speaking of what it should stand for in the future I believe it has to represent the ordinary people of Ireland, their values and their expectations,” he said.

Nominations for the leadership must be submitted by tomorrow lunchtime, with a vote to be taken by the parliamentary party on Wednesday.