Mr Cowen vowed to lead his party into the next general election and announced a confidence vote will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) amongst the FF parliamentary party.
He had been supported by Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and Deputy Niall Blaney, but there had been a swell of support for Micheal Martin to take over and lead the party into the General Election.
And last night Mr Martin resigned as Foreign Affairs Minister, insisting he will vote against Cowen in a confidence vote this Tuesday. Mr Cowen refused to accept the resignation.
Mr Cowen earlier said he had consulted widely in the party – all conversations had been cordial. He has put a motion of confidence forward to the parliamentary party for this Tuesday. A secret ballot will take place.
Mr Cowen said he was confident of winning that vote. He has tonight refused to accept Mr Martin’s resignation.
The Taoiseach said he had taken his decision to stay on ‘in the best interests of the country’.
The government has been strong and cohesive, he claimed, and as Taoiseach he wanted to continue to discharge his responsibilities to the people.
He said that putting the country first had impacted on Fianna Fail.
“I will continue to lead the party….my decision is my deeply held belief. I have placed a motion of confidence in my leadership next Tuesday…by secret ballot.
“Once we have dispensed with this issue…we will work together.”
He refused to be drawn on the opposition of Mr Martin to his leadership. He said there is concern at public opinion within the party, but he was putting the country before the party.
He said he looked forward to a general election campaign to have a rational debate.
Flanked by the Tanaiste at the press conference, Mr Cowen said he wasn’t ‘hanging around’ because it was important to pass the Finance Bill.
“This matter (his leadership) will be resolved this coming Tuesday,” he said.
Asked if he had considered resigning, he said: “I made no indication at any time of resigning.”
Last night Mr Martin said he would continue as a Minister.