A new life for Brian

TODAY marks the first day of the rest of Brian Cowen's life after his dissolution of the Dail yesterday (Tuesday) and his decision not to run in the forthcoming General Election.

TODAY marks the first day of the rest of Brian Cowen's life after his dissolution of the Dail yesterday (Tuesday) and his decision not to run in the forthcoming General Election.

On Monday evening Mr Cowen delivered the news everyone had been waiting to hear, that he had reached a decision about his policitical future.

Mr Cowen said he had consulted his family and had decided to step down after 26 years in the political eye.

Mr Cowen said he had reached his decision "with a heavy heart"

"I am humbled by and grateful for the many messages of support I have received. The genuine decency and warmth of people in this country is one of our finest traits and long may that be so," said Mr Cowen.

He said although he was conscious that the Laois-Offaly Fianna Fil organisation's support remains available to him, they also made it clear that the decision rests with him and his family and that they would respect that decision. "I thank them for their understanding and their solidarity," he said.

He said he was "proud and grateful to have served with each and every one of my party colleagues" and pledged his full support.

He paid tribute to local councillors at county and town level with whom he has "always worked together as a team."

"But of course, my deepest gratitude of all belongs to my family for their support, forbearance and encouragement at all times. To my wife Mary, my daughters Sinad and Maedhbh, go raibh mle mle maith agaibh. To my mother and brothers my sincere thanks also," he said.

"The work of a TD in serving the daily needs of individual constituents and local community organisations could not be done without the dedication, discretion and professionalism and of my constituency staff, who greatly assisted me in that important work. In particular, I want to thank my Constituency Secretary, Councillor Sinead Dooley, who along with Elaine Hogan and Colette Waters managed a considerable workload in my constituency office in Tullamore," he said.

Finally he also acknowledged the many years of dedicated service to both his father and himself by the late Patricia Johnson, their former constituency secretary, who worked in their office in Clara for many years.

In his final Dail address yesterday (Tuesday) Mr Cowen said "It has been a privilege to serve the people of Ireland in our government. In every government department in which I served, my overriding objective was to do my best by the Irish people."

He added "In every decision I took, as Taoiseach, I can honestly say the common good was my overriding concern, and loyalty to this country and its people informed every choice I made."