Mansergh backs Lenihan in FF leadership poll

Minister of State Martin Mansergh will support Brian Lenihan in the Fianna Fail leadership contest which will be decided today.

Minister of State Martin Mansergh will support Brian Lenihan in the Fianna Fail leadership contest which will be decided today.

TheTipperary town based TD said he had spoken to all of the four candidates and had pledged his support to Mr Lenihan.

"He would have first claim on my loyalty," said Minister Mansergh who said he had a long relationship with the Lenihan family going back to Brian Lenihan senior.

Deputy Mansergh said that Brian Lenihan knew South Tipperary well as he was director of elections in 2001. The following year Brian Lenihan encouraged him to go forward for public office and in 2002 he became a senator.

He explained his main reason for supporting Mr Lenihan was that he believed he was the person of the four who could speak with the greatest authority on the economic and financial situation.

"Of the four he would easily have the greatest grasp of all the detail on those matters," said Deputy Mansergh.

He said that he attended a ceremony in Sologheadbeg at the weekend and party members 'overwhelmingly' favoured Brian Lenihan in the race for leader of the party.

One of the criticisms of Brian Cowen was that he had left the party badly organised all over the country. Deputy Mansergh said he was confident that the organisation in South Tipperary was prepared to fight the forthcoming general election.

"I am quite satisfied that there is an organisation there in South Tipperary to support this campaign," he said.

Deputy Mansergh, who is expected to be named on the FF ticket at a party selection convention in Cashel on Saturday, said he had been nominated by the Dan Breen cumann in Tippeary Town and he expected to receive more nominations before the convention.

He expected clarification on how many candidates the party would run in the election at the convention which will be held in Bru Boru on Saturday evening.