Brian Cowen vows to remain leader of Fianna Fail

Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen tonight confirmed he would remain as leader of his ruling Fianna Fail party.

Mr Cowen said it was in the best interests of the country and the party.

The Taoiseach said his Fianna Fail parliamentary party would hold a secret ballot on Tuesday on a motion of no confidence in him as leader.

After two days of consultation with colleagues, Mr Cowen said he had come to the conclusion that stepping down would lead to confusion and loss of authority.

"As Taoiseach my total focus must remain with discharging my duties to the people," he said.

"For Fianna Fail the party is important but the interests of the country are paramount."

Mr Cowen said he had no considered resigning.

"No. I made no indication of resigning at any time as leader of the party," he said.

The Taoiseach accepted there was "an issue" over leadership but said that question should be resolved quickly.

Under normal Fianna Fail party rules, a leader would only face a vote on the leadership if a parliamentary party member put forward a motion of no confidence.

He said he wanted to dispense with procedures and put forward the motion himself for a vote when TDs and Senators meet next, expected on Tuesday.