From Irish Times.com
Brian Cowen says he will not contest general election
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced he will not contest the general election.
Mr Cowen (51) tonight said he had come to the decision following talks with his family and newly elected Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.
He said the Fianna Fáil organisation in the Laois-Offaly area had wanted him to contest the election, which is expected to take place on February 25th.
Mr Cowen said it was time to give the new party leader and frontbench team he appointed earlier today "a break".
He said Mr Martin had not asked him to stand down.
"Everyone in the Fianna Fáil party wanted to see me stand again," he told Midlands Radio 103.
Mr Cowen said he would remain strongly supportive of Mr Martin and the party.
He believed the party's new leader could lead Fianna Fáil into a very good election effort.
“Of course it’s with a heavy heart you make a decision such as this,” Mr Cowen added.
“It’s a momentous decision for me, but also I think it’s the right decision because the party now is in the process of rebuilding and rejuvenating and renewing, and a generational shift should take place of which I’m a part, certainly in terms of the tenure I’ve had as a prominent member of the organisation throughout the country for many years.”
In a statement, Mr Cowen said he was humbled by the messages of support he had received. "The genuine decency and warmth of people in this country is one of our finest traits and long may that be so."
A Fianna Fáil meeting took place in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 6pm this evening to make arrangements for selection convention scheduled to take place in the constituency tomorrow night.
Mr Cowen was first elected in 1984 in byelection caused by death of his father, Bernard “Ber”’ Cowen.
He went to serve as minister for labour 1992-1993; minister for transport, energy and communications 1993-1994; minister for health and children 1997-2000; minister for foreign affairs 2000-2004; minister for finance 2004-2008 (tánaiste 2007-2008). He was elected Taoiseach in May 2008.
Mr Cowen will dissolve the Dáil tomorrow afternoon and the election date will then be set.
The Dail will reconvene at 2.30pm with a statement from Mr Cowen which is expected to be followed by remarks from the leaders of Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and the Greens.
The Taoiseach will then attend Áras an Uachtaráin in the Phoenix Park to ask President Mary McAleese to formally dissolve parliament.