Irish PM Brian Cowen to stay on as interim leader
Taoiseach Brian Cowen will continue to be in charge of the country after the forthcoming general election before the new Irish government is formed -- even if he's not a TD.
Mr Cowen is not expected to run in the general election, and retire from his Laois-Offaly constituency.
He would become the first sitting Taoiseach not to run in an election.
Mr Cowen's brother, Fianna Fail councillor Barry Cowen, is tipped to replace the Taoiseach on the party ticket.
The Taoiseach will still remain in office after the election until a new Government is formed, as normal.
Advice to the Government from the Attorney General Paul Gallagher says the Taoiseach and his ministers remain in office until their successors are appointed, regardless of whether they are TDs after the election.
The Attorney General also says the Constitutional requirement for seven ministers to be in the Cabinet is met at present.
Mr Cowen's constituency colleague, Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming, was overheard yesterday saying the party would "get more votes" with the Taoiseach on the ticket.
But without Mr Cowen, the party would struggle to win one seat. "Locally, we'd be in fierce trouble," Mr Fleming said. He also said Barry Cowen "wouldn't be as strong" as Brian Cowen.
Fianna Fail holds three seats in Laois-Offaly at present, with Mr Cowen, Mr Fleming and junior minister Sean Fleming.