Irish PM Cowen May Be Facing A Vote Of No Confidence

The simmering situation in Ireland may soon be coming to a boil once again. The Irish Times reports that "speculation is growing in Leinster House that a motion of no confidence against Mr Cowen may be tabled by backbenchers at a crunch Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting this afternoon. [His] position is looking increasingly under threat following further revelations about his contacts with Anglo Irish Bank officials in the lead-up to the controversial bank guarantee in September 2008." Not surprisingly, this is the same bank that we wrote about in October, spotting one Goldman Sachs among the list of bailoutees. And, as we described in painful detail over two months ago, it is very likely that one Peter Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, may have been instrumental in discussions with the Irish government which led to a taxpayer funded bailout of not only AIB, but the preservation of Goldman interests. We are confident that if related allegations are proven, being fired from his post will be the last of Mr. Cowen's concerns.

From the Irish Times:

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan insisted there would not be a motion of no confidence against the Taoiseach this afternoon. “We are heading into a general election now. Deputies are anxious about the future, after the election, of the party,” he said.

Mr Lenihan admitted TDs and party members were concerned about the survival of the party after the Spring election. Twelve Fianna Fáil TDs have announced their retirement from politics in recent weeks.

“Brian Cowen is the elected leader of the Fianna Fail party. As one of his ministers naturally I have confidence in him,” Mr Lenihan said.

Fianna Fáil backbencher Mary O‘Rourke also dismissed the latest speculation, saying talk of a leadership heave was wide of the mark. “It‘s far too late. I hate saying it but we are where we are,” she told Newstalk radio.

“We are so near a general election that it would be futile I think to go changing anything.” Eighteen signatures of TDs and Senators are required to force a vote on the party leadership.

However, Green Party TD Paul Gogarty helped to further fan the flames with a tweet sent this morning which suggested a heave against the Taoiseach.

"Did I hear a rumour people are doing their own dirty work for once rather than expecting us to do it for them? Coulda (sic) picked a genuine issue," he said.

Fine Gael TD for Roscommon/South Leitrim Denis Naughten meanwhile tweeted that there was a strong rumour going around Leinster House that the Taoiseach would call a general election this evening.

Mr Cowen told the Dáil yesterday “a big slowdown in our economy” had been discussed at the meal, but the affairs of the bank did not arise.

A motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach has been tabled by the Sinn-Féin led Technical Group in the Dáil.

The group, which comprises of Sinn Féin's 5 TDs and independent TDs Maureen O'SUllivan and Finian McGrath, called on Fine Gael and the Labour Party to support the motion.

As for allegations of improper behavior with regard to AIB, we read the following:

In response to a question from Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who happened to be at Druids Glen for a function on the same date, as the informal dinner Mr Cowen disclosed yesterday that after his game with Mr FitzPatrick and Fintan Drury, who had stood down as a director of Anglo a few months earlier, they were joined for dinner by three other people.

These were Gary McGann, the chief executive of Smurfit Kappa who was a director of Anglo at the time, Alan Gray, an economic consultant who was on the board of the Central Bank, and a third man who was the Taoiseach’s Garda driver.

Mr Cowen said the golf outing and lunch were organised by Mr Drury, an old friend of his.

“It was about being able to sit down with people at the end of the day and having a chat about the economy.

“The deputy will recall we had a mini-budget and saw recession on the horizon and a big slowdown in our economy,” he told Mr Ó Caoláin.

“As Taoiseach, I was there chatting to see if there were ideas and to find out other people’s views of things and to see if things could be done which might be helpful. As the deputy will know, those people would have some views on that. That was basically the total sum of it.”

Last night, Mr Gray, who is managing partner of Indecon economic consultants, issued a statement confirming he was invited to attend an informal dinner with the Taoiseach at Druids Glen on July 28th, 2008. “The purpose of the invitation was to provide independent ideas to stimulate economic growth and to reduce unemployment in Ireland.” He said those present were Mr Cowen, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Drury, Mr McGann and the Taoiseach’s driver. It was the first time he had met Mr Fitzpatrick.

“At no time when Mr Gray was present at the dinner was there any discussion of banking issues or of Anglo Irish Bank or any related matters. The discussion focused exclusively on initiatives to encourage new small indigenous firms, and measures to attract additional investment to Ireland and other responses to unemployment,” the statement said.

As to what happens to the Irish bailout facility, which just happens to be pari with the country's Pension fund accruals, in the case of a government overthrow, it is really anyone's guess. However, we are confident new European feudal overlord Olli Rehn will not be too happy with the outcome.