Brian Cowen steps down as Irish PM

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DUBLIN, IRELAND: Brian Cowen on Monday night announced the end of his 27-year political career as well as stepping down as Ireland's Prime Minister, the Irish Times reported on Tuesday.

In addition, he dissolved the Irish Parliament (or Dáil) on Tuesday in order to allow for the first general election since the multi-billion bailout from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In January, Cowen resigned as leader of the long ruling Fianna Fail party after determining that it became clear that internal criticism of his leadership was deflecting the party from uniting to contest the upcoming election.

Micheál Martin, 50, was elected as the eighth leader of Fianna Fail. Martin was the former Irish Foreign Minister. Cowen said that the general election will likely take place on February 25 but the date may be pushed back to March 2 if necessary to give Fianna Fail more time for its campaign.

The former PM will meet with Irish President Mary McAleese on Tuesday evening and the date of the election will be announced by Environment Minister Eamon O'Cuiv, who is responsible for the polls' organization.

Cowen announced his decision on local radio and said that he had consulted with his family before arriving at his final choice. He also thanked the voters in his constituency for their support which enabled him to enjoy a lengthy political career.

However, Cowen will be remembered for being in charge during the worst Irish financial crisis in history but he successfully underwent a confidence vote in 2010. He also played a significant part in the Northern Ireland peace process.

"It was a great privilege to serve as a Taoiseach (PM). The genuine decency and warmth of people in this country is one of our finest traits and long may that be so," said Cowen.

Cowen will be immediately entitled to two pensions worth around €150,000 ($206,850) a year on his retirement and a lump sum payment of €150,000. He also qualifies for a full TD's pension worth around €50,000 per year (around $69,000) due to his 27 years in the Dáil.

(BNO NEWS )

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