Brian Cowen to be next Taoiseach
Brian Cowen to be next Taoiseach

Brian Cowen will be the next 26-County Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail, it was confirmed today.

It was confirmed at the close of nominations today for the leadership that the Minister for Finance and Tanaiste was the only member to put his name forward to succeed Bertie Ahern on May 6th.

Mr Ahern announced on Wednesday he would quit on May 6th amid a mounting scandal about his private finances.

Mr Cowen will be formally declared the seventh leader of Fianna Fail at a meeting of the parliamentary party on Wednesday.

In a statement Mr Cowen said he was deeply honoured by the confidence shown in him by the members of the Parliamentary Party.

“It is a reflection of the support of the wider Fianna Fail membership throughout the country,” the Laois-Offaly representative said.

“I am grateful for that overwhelming endorsement of my candidacy for the leadership of the party at this time.”

Cowen was the runaway favourite to succeed Bertie Ahern after the Taoiseach declared his intention to stand down.

Potential candidates such as Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin ruled themselves out and backed Mr Cowen.

However his coronation as Fianna Fail leader seemed inevitable when Mr Ahern described him last June as his obvious successor.

The son of former Fianna Fail TD Bernard Cowen, he was elected to the Dail in 1984 at the age of 24 in Laois-Offaly after his father’s death.

In 1992, after the fall of Charles Haughey, he was appointed by the then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds to the post for Minister for Labour and a year later became Minister for Energy.

In 1994, Mr Cowen became Transport, Energy and Communications Minister until the collapse of the Fianna Fail-Labour coalition government.

When Fianna Fail returned to office in 1997 under the leadership of Bertie Ahern, he was appointed Minister for Health -- a portfolio he dubbed “Angola”.

Three years later he was promoted to Foreign Minister -- a post he held for four years and which placed him at the heart of negotiations dealing with the collapse of power-sharing in Belfast and also IRA decommissioning.

In 2003, at a delicate phase of negotiations, Ian Paisley said of him that “the reason his lips were so thick was that when his mother was bringing him up he was a very disobedient young boy, so she used to put glue on his lips and put him to the floor and keep him there. That has been recorded in his physical make-up.

“Away with him indeed and if he wants to use his lips to better effect, he should do it somewhere else, and go to people of like physical looks.”

Cowen described the comment as “inappropriate” and argued that the North had moved “beyond the failed politics of insults”.

In 2004, Mr Cowen moved to another key cabinet post as Minister for Finance and later Tanaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] under Ahern after Fianna Fail remained for a third successive government.

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