Irish Republican News · May 7, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Cowen elected Taoiseach, names Cabinet

The newly elected Taoiseach Brian Cowen has appointed Mary Coughlan as his Tanaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] in his new Cabinet announced this evening in Dublin.

Mr Cowen earlier received his seal of office from President Mary McAleese after his election as the 12th Taoiseach of the 26 Counties.

Mary Coughlan will also be Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, while Micheal Martin will move from that ministry to head up the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Brian Lenihan was named as Minister for Finance with Dermot Ahern moving from Foreign Affairs to Justice, replacing Mr Lenihan. The rest of the cabinet was largely unchanged, with Mary Harney controversially retaining her post as Minister for Health.

Mr Cowen told the Dublin parliament he was “deeply honoured” and would take up the role with “a genuine sense of humility” after he was elected to the post by 88 votes to 76.

Cowen received the support of his Fianna Fail party, the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats and a handful of independents.

He told the Dail that Ireland of 2008 was a much better place to live for its citizens than ever before and “far fewer of our people are struggling on the margins of our society”.

“One of the challenges we face today is to temper a rising tendency towards individualism within Irish society,” Mr Cowen said.

“We have reaped benefits from the more confident Ireland as presented by its most successful people forging new opportunities at home and abroad. Overdone this carries risks.”

He also saluted his predecessor Bertie Ahern, describing him as “an inspirational example”.

Mr Cowen was earlier nominated for the post by Mr Ahern, who claimed Mr Cowen was a uniquely well-qualified candidate “to lead the country towards the realisation of our shared objectives” and to face the challenge ahead.

Mr Ahern took part in his last official engagement today, leading the Government at the official commemoration of the 1916 Rising at Arbour Hill this morning.

At the start of today’s Dail session, Mr Ahern officially informed the Ceann Comhairle that he had tendered his resignation to the President yesterday. Mr Ahern tendered his resignation as Taoiseach to President Mary McAleese at her chambers at Aras an Uachtarain yesterday evening in accordance with the the Constitution.

Mr Cowen then travelled to Aras an Uachtarain where he received his seal of office.

The new Taoiseach arrived back in Government Buildings and immediately set about forming his Cabinet. Once all his ministers were informed of their appointments he led his new team into the Dail chamber.

Congratulating Mr Cowen, Enda Kenny, leader of the opposition Fine Gael party, said the new leader “epitomised faithfulness” in his attitude to Fianna Fail and his constituents.

But Mr Kenny said the challenge now facing Mr Cowen was to balance that loyalty against the requirements of the national interest.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said Mr Cowen had a reputation as “very capable and combative” politician. Mr Gilmore warned that the Laois-Offaly TD was coming to office at “a changed time in the country” when many people were worried about their jobs, their businesses and concerned about the services they would get from the State.

Sinn Fein’s Dail leader Caoimhghin O’Caolain wished Mr Cowen well in his new post but said the Irish people were still awaiting for quality public services to be delivered by the 26-County government.

“Since Fianna Fail’s return to office last year it has become increasingly clear that the government is struggling to cope with the challenges facing modern Ireland. There appears to be no coherent plan to manage the economy during the current downturn. Job creation and enterprise are not top of the agenda and the health service remains in disarray.

“Last June I said that the return of Mary Harney to the Health portfolio would be a disaster for the health services. That has proved to be the case. It is time for her to go and her policies with her.

“The state is shirking its responsibility to its young people by not delivering an adequate education system and in many instances children with special needs are completely excluded from the system due to a lack of investment.

“Serious crime and anti social behaviour intimidates and holds hostage communities throughout the country.

“Despite presiding over a decade of economic prosperity Fianna Fail and its government partners have failed to lay the economic foundations and infrastructural investments needed to sustain the country during tighter times.

“If there is no clear signal that there will be a serious change in the direction of government Sinn Fein cannot support the election of Brian Cowen as Taoiseach.”

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© 2008 Irish Republican News