Brian Cowen vows to stay in his job as Irish PM

The Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has vowed to continue in his role as leader of his country amid speculation over his political future.

Mr Cowen has been facing questions over his leadership in recent days, following criticism of his performance in a radio interview with RTE.

The taoiseach has denied allegations that he was hung-over during the early morning interview on 14 September.

His former chief whip Tom Kitt has said it is time for a new leader.

Mr Kitt, who was sacked as chief whip by Mr Cowen in May 2008, said the Fianna Fail parliamentary party needed to meet to consider the ongoing controversy over its leader.

But Mr Cowen has also recieved support from a number of Fianna Fail colleagues, including the Irish Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan.

In a joint media briefing with Mr Lenihan on Monday evening, called to respond to growing specuation about the taoiseach's position, Mr Cowen said he was not a 'taoiseach on probation'.

He insisted he has the full support of his party as the Irish government faces a number of big economic decisions in the coming weeks and months.

He said he would continue to work with his colleagues in an atmosphere of 'mutual respect'.

During the media briefing, Mr Cowen said he was "speaking to the Irish people as taoiseach and telling them they have strong government".

He added he would be working with his finance minister to get the Irish Republic through the challenging times ahead.

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