21.35 ‘One has to make a stand’ Micheál Martin tells reporters at Leinster House.
‘I fully respect the decision of my colleagues.’
21.29 Taoiseach Brian Cowen tells RTÉ News that he has accepted the resignation of Micheál Martin as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
He says the leadership issue has not affected his friendship with Micheál Martin.
He says Micheál Martin’s future was not discussed. ‘It wasn’t an issue for tonight’s meeting.’
Mr Curran disagreed that Mr Cowen had been weakeend by the leadership issue of recent days.
21.21 Tonight’s vote has been welcomed in the Taoiseach’s constituency in Co Offaly, says Midlands Correspondent Ciaran Mullooly.
21.17 Awaiting news of official result at the plinth outside Leinster House from John Curran
21.10 Brian Cowen wins confidence vote.
21.05 David Davin-Power: Once there is a result it will be delivered by Chief Whip John Curran.
20.55 Micheál Martin is said to have given a strong speech – Mary Hanafin is believed to have given a surprisingly short address to the meeting.
20.53 After more than three hours, and having heard contributions from a range of Fianna Fáil members, the Taoiseach wrapped up the meeting with a speech shortly after 8.40pm.
The TDs who are entitled to vote had their names called from a list and cast their votes – one vote, that of Justice Minister Dermot Ahern – was cast from his hospital bed were he is recovering following an operation.
The two tellers are Dr Rory O Hanlon and Michael Moynihan; the votes will be shredded after they are counted.
20.52 A result of the secret ballot is expected shortly.
20.48 Voting in the confidence motion is under way.
20.46 David McCullagh: Leinster House has seen plenty of leadership challenges – though tonight’s confidence debate seemed relatively civilised.
20.34 The Taoiseach is now speaking ahead of a confidence vote at the meeting.
The secret ballot will take some time but a result could come within half an hour.
20.33 Brian Dowling: Some sources saying the Taoiseach is now wrapping up the discussion
20.15 It is believed that around 20 members of the party have spoken at tonight’s meeting.
19.55 David Davin-Power: About 12 people have spoken now at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting.
19.42 It is understood Mary Hanafin told colleagues she would be ‘voting in accordance with the conversations she had had with the Taoiseach’
19.38 The latest estimate is that about eight have spoken at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting
19.29 David Davin-Power: ‘Plenty of talking left at FF meeting i hear.’
19.25 The Taoiseach spoke for around 20 minutes.
19.20 David McCullagh: It is understood Brian Cowen addressed criticism of the preparedness of the FF organisation for for the general election and the issue of morale within FF
19.17 One supporter of Mr Cowen described Micheál Martin’s ten minute speech as ‘brilliant’
19.04 Brian Dowling: Cowen & Martin have completed their opening comments. Jr minister Billy Kelleher was speaking in support of Martin when the meeting broke
19.03 The Fianna Fáil PP meeting has broken up for a Dáil vote and will resume in around 10 minutes
18.31 Irish Times’ Stephen Collins tells RTÉ’s that it looks as if the majority of FF TDs will stay with Cowen as they don’t want uncertainty
18.26 Fianna Fáil TD Charlie O’Connor says the Taoiseach is addressing the PP meeting and he was buoyed by what Cowen had to say
17.06 Tonight’s confidence motion will be proposed by the Taoiseach and seconded by Tánaiste Mary Coughlan
Lenihan supports Taoiseach
Mr Cowen received a significant boost this afternoon when the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said he would support the Taoiseach.
Mr Lenihan – who many consider to be a potential leadership candidate – said he ‘did not have the luxury of indulging his ambitions’, as his priority at present was to put the country first.
‘I made it clear at all stages that I was very flattered at their interest in me being leader of the party … but made it clear that current financial matters made it impossible for me to disrupt the good working relationship.’
Minister Lenihan added that Brian Cowen was the best person to ‘lead us into this election’.
However, the Minister for Finance admitted he shared concerns expressed by fellow TD Willie O’Dea that Fianna Fáil might be punished at the polls.
Reacting to Mr Lenihan’s decision, Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said: ‘I think what Brian Lenihan has been saying to you is not what he has been saying to the backbenchers.
‘He did encourage dissent, he did encourage us to look at the numbers,’ Mr McGuinness said.
Mr McGuinness added that Brian Lenihan ‘did express an interest in the leadership, and that is what is shocking about what he has revealed today, because that is not what he had to say to us in the course of last year’.
Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has said that approaches were made to him last year by TDs concerned over the leadership of the party, but he continued to support Mr Cowen.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Martin said that one of the defining moments that changed his mind was the handling of the International Monetary Fund’s arrival.
‘The management of the IMF, the presentation of the IMF coming into the country, that to me was a watershed moment,’ Mr Martin said.
‘I think the way that was managed and communicated and ministers came out, from my information, without the full knowledge of what actually was going on at that time.’