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Irish Election called as Taoiseach steps down

Brian Cowen resigns after shock Cabinet revolt against his leadership.

Brian Cowen resigns after shock Cabinet revolt against his leadership.

In a dramatic sequence of events, Taoiseach Cowen went from winning a motion of confidence to stepping down as party leader, member of the Dáil and Taoiseach in under two weeks.

On 18 January 2011 Mr Cowen won a leadership challenge within his Fianna Fáil party, just 48 hours after five of his Cabinet Ministers had tendered their resignations.

Departed ministers included Dermot Ahern from Justice, Noel Dempsey from Transport, Tony Killeen from Defence, Mary Harney from Health, and Micheál Martin from Foreign Affairs after a failed leadership challenge.

On 22 January, only four days after winning the leadership challenge, Brian Cowen announced his resignation as leader of Fianna Fáil.

On 23 January the Greens, the junior party in the coalition with Fianna Fáil, withdrew from government leaving Mr Cowen with no choice other than calling an election.

On 24 January, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan reached an agreement with opposition parties to complete all stages of the Finance Bill before the election, which was a prerequisite of the EU and IMF's bailout of the Irish economy.

On 1 February, the Taoiseach dissolved the Dáil and confirmed the general election will take place on 25 February 2011.

Mr Cowen also announced that he would not stand in the upcoming election, 27 years after he was first elected to the Dáil in 1984.

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