The Fianna Fail leadership campaign has begun in earnest. Dermot Ahern -in a side swipe at the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern-stated that Bertie had jumped the gun in nominating Brian Cowen as his successor.
The fact that Dermot Ahern would express his opinions in such a trenchent manner is a clear indication that Bertie's authority is beginning to wane. This is reminiscent of Tony Blair in the UK. It was interesting to watch the smile on Mary Hanafin's face as Dermot made his statement.
It is by no means a foregone conclusion that Brian Cowen would win an FF leadership battle. Micheal Martin backed by a huge block of Munster TDs and Senators could mount a formidable challenge.
It is known that Noel Dempsey fancies his chances. Possibly Mary Hanafin could stand.
If the party splits a compromise candidate such as Brian Lenihan could emerge. Interesting times ahead for FF.