A total of four candidates have put themselves forward to contest the leadership of the Fianna Fail Party after the deadline for nominations passed at lunchtime on Monday 24th Jan 2011.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin is the bookies favourite to succeed Brian Cowen as the party's eighth leader, closely followed by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan who is trailed by Minister for Social Protection Eamon O Cuiv and Mary Hanafin, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, is the only female candidate in the leadership race.
A special meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party had been convened at 2.00pm on Wednesday January 26th in Leinster House where the new leader was to be chosen by the party faithful but in true Fianna Fail fashion "The best laid schemes o Mice and Men" intervened during a reported late night drinking session in the Dail bar where a series of taunts and alcohol fueled bravado appear to have controversially changed the selection process for the first time since the foundation of the party.
In what is being seen as yet another example of Fianna Fail's failure to gauge the Irish publics anger and resentment at the state of the nations economy and savage austerity measures in the wake of the country's banking crisis, the four nominees have announced that they will decide the party leadership over a "winner take all" game of golf at the Druids Glen golf course.
Druids Glen is of course, the course where where Taoiseach Brian Cowen played a round with former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick in July 2008, just two months before the bank guarantee scheme was announced.
Minister Lenihan has issued a statement in which he defended the new and unusual party procedure and stressed that it is in the interests of both the party and the country that a fair and open selection process can be seen by the Irish electorate.
"Irish politics has to be seen to be changing for the better, for the greater good, the skullduggery and behind closed door deals are a thing of the past within the Fianna Fail party and I truly believe that a four way golf challenge would be a fair and amicable way to decide who will lead our party into the next general election"
Opposition leaders have branded the contest a publicity stunt with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny demanding to know if reports of a 500,000 Euro payment to Fianna Fail from a major sports network for live and exclusive coverage of the match were true.
Labour leader Eamonn "Happy" Gilmore quipped that "It would be the first golf match in history that would be won by the player able to pull the most strokes"