Cowen confirmed as Taoiseach

Outgoing Finance Minister Brian Cowen was today elected Taoiseach by the Dáil to succeed Bertie Ahern.

Mr Cowen won by 88 votes to 76 and was immediately given a standing ovation by party colleagues.

His nomination for Taoiseach was proposed by his predecessor Mr Ahern and seconded by Environment Minister and Green Party leader John Gormley.

After casting his vote, Mr Ahern sat on the backbenches with rank and file TDs for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Mr Cowen will travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to collect his official seal of office from President Mary McAleese.

He will then return to the Dail parliament to appoint his new Cabinet.

Mr Ahern described the Offaly TD earlier as “uniquely well qualified” to take up the position as the 12th Taoiseach of the country.

Seconding the nomination, Mr Gormley said his new boss was tough but fair-minded, and gregarious but thoughtful.

Opposition leaders Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Labour’s Eamon Gilmore were also nominated for Taoiseach by party colleagues.

Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton said difficult times loomed ahead for Mr Cowen, with rising food and oil prices and a decline in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

He added: “Ireland is not a good place to be homeless, to be suicidal, to be autistic or to be black.”

Providing a humorous respite amid the formal proceedings, Kerry South TD Jackie Healy-Rae promised Mr Cowen his vote and appealed to him to “help me with potholes” in his constituency.

Hundreds of local supporters of Mr Cowen were waiting outside Leinster House to congratulate him on his new role.

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