Leadership battle: How events unfolded


Friday, January 7th, 2011:A Red C poll prepared for Paddy Power bookmakers put support for Fianna Fail at 14 per cent. This followed an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll three weeks earlier that showed support for the party had dropped to its lowest ever point (17 per cent).

Sunday January 9th: The FitzPatrick Tapes,a book based on interviews between FitzPatrick and journalists Brian Carey and Tom Lyons, is published. It reveals previously undisclosed contacts between Brian Cowen and Sean Fitzpatrick.

The former Anglo Irish Bank chairman says he and Cowen had a phone conversation in March 2008 and a golf game and dinner on July 28th, 2008.

Mr Cowen confirms the golf game but says Anglo’s problems were not discussed. As for the March 2008 conversation, he says he was told about businessman Seán Quinn’s then secret investment in the bank, which he undertook to refer to the governor of the Central Bank.

Monday, January 10th:Mr Cowen rejects “malicious” and “unfounded” allegations about his contacts with FitzPatrick. “There was nothing untoward, no hidden or secret agenda and no concessions, favours or interventions requested or granted,” he says about the golfing occasion in a statement. Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin says the issue “adds to the instability of the party” but a change of leadership “would not help”.

Tuesday, January 11th: The Greens say they can find no evidence of inappropriate behaviour in the Taoiseach’s contacts with Mr FitzPatrick but say Cowen should have put the matter in the public domain earlier.

Wednesday, January 12th: Following questioning from Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said his dinner with Sean Fitzpatrick after a golf game in 2008 was also attended by a second Anglo director, Gary McGann, former Anglo director Fintan Drury and a director of the Central Bank, Alan Gray.

Thursday, January 13th: A meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party was postponed by three hours, sparking rumours that Brian Cowen’s position is in doubt. However, Cowen told the meeting he was not resigning, though he accepted there were issues around his leadership. He undertakes to sit down with colleagues “in an atmosphere of mutual respect and solidarity and decide what I believe to be the collective view of the party”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin welcomes the consultation process. “It is important that members use this opportunity to have their say on the future of the party,” he says.

Friday, January 14th:Mr Cowen speaks to more than 40 deputies, including Brian Lenihan, to seek their views on the future of the party and his leadership. Eamon Ó Cuív indicates he would put his name forward if there were a contest, but says that as long as the Taoiseach chose to stay, he would support him.

The Labour Party announces it would table a motion of no confidence in the Government.

Saturday, January 15th:The Taoiseach continues to consult party members. Cork deputy Noel O’Flynn calls on Mr Cowen to step down as leader of Fianna Fáil and for the party to unite behind Micheál Martin.

Sunday, January 16th:The Taoiseach announces he would table a motion of confidence in his own leadership at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. Mr Martin calls a press conference to say he would be voting against the motion and that it was time for a change of leadership.