The 26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced he will not contest the upcoming general election.
Speaking tonight, Mr Cowen said he had come to the decision following talks with his family and newly elected Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.
Know as ‘Biffo’, Mr Cowen was strongly associated in the public mind with the economic crash of recent years, holding the position of Minister for Finance before becoming Taoiseach at the height of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ bubble.
The Taoiseach said tonight it was time to give the new party leader and the newly appointed party frontbench team “a break”.
He said Mr Martin had not asked him to stand down. “Everyone in the Fianna Fail party wanted to see me stand again,” he told Midlands Radio 103.
He is due to name the date for the election tomorrow when he formally dissolves the Dublin parliament.
His brother, Barry Cowen, is expected to attempt to defend his Dail seat in the Laois/Offaly constituency, where Fianna Fail is facing a major uphil struggle.
Earlier today, Micheal Martin named his new team of party spokespeople. All seven senior Ministers were retained, with his rival challenger for the Fianna Fail leadership, Mary Hanafin, being named as deputy leader.
The announcement also saw former Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea rewarded for his support with a return to the front bench. O’Dea was forced to resign from the Cabinet last year when it emerged he had committed perjury in regard to his defamation of Sinn Fein’s Maurice Quinlivan.