Cowen to stand down at election

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Taoiseach Brian Cowen will not contest his seat in the Irish general election

Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen will not contest the general election, he has announced.

Mr Cowen’s political future had been in doubt after he stepped down as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party just over a week ago.

He said that after consulting with his family he would not run again in his Laois/Offaly constituency.

Mr Cowen said: “I have to take things into consideration now in the context of the fact of having been Taoiseach and leader of the party and former leader and giving a break to the new leader.”

He said he also took his family into consideration.

The outgoing Taoiseach said new Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin did not ask him to stand down.

“It was not a question of Micheal expecting me to stand aside,” Mr Cowen told Midlands Radio.

Mr Cowen will dissolve the Dail (parliament) on Tuesday and name a date for the most eagerly awaited general election in decades.

The Dail will reconvene at 2.30pm with a statement from Mr Cowen and expected remarks from the leaders of Opposition parties Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein and the Greens, who pulled out of the coalition the day after Mr Cowen quit as Fianna Fail leader.

The Taoiseach will then attend President Mary McAleese’s residence, Aras an Uachtarain in the Phoenix Park, and ask her to formally dissolve parliament.

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