Blaney was one of Cowen's most loyal supporters
FIANNA Fail TD Niall Blaney was one of the most loyal supporters of Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
But now he is the youngest Fianna Fail TD whose future is in doubt ahead of the general election, having celebrated his 37th birthday just two days ago.
His decision to pull out of the race could spell the end of the Blaney family dynasty which has held seats in the Dail for three generations.
Mr Blaney came from a family steeped in the traditions of Fianna Fail in Donegal, and which had been at the centre of one of its most bitter splits.
His grandfather, Neal Blaney, was a member of the IRA during the War of Independence and a TD from 1927 to 1948.
His uncle Neil Blaney was a staunch republican who was sacked from the cabinet by Taoiseach Jack Lynch in the midst of the Arms Crisis of 1970. He retained his seat as an Independent until his death in 1995 and was then succeeded by his brother Harry.
Harry Blaney had been one of the four Independents who supported Bertie Ahern's 1997 coalition Government. One of the parts of his deal was a €20m bridge to connect two remote parts of North Donegal. The 'Harry Blaney Bridge' was opened official by Mr Cowen in 2009.
It was Harry's son, Niall, who put an end to the split with Fianna Fail, which had lasted almost 35 years, after he was elected to the Dail as an Independent TD in 2002.
He rejoined the party in 2006 and has voted loyally with it ever since.
He was particularly close to Mr Cowen given that the Taoiseach had played a role in healing the split between the Blaney family and Fianna Fail.
Dr Jim McDaid resigned his seat last year in a shock move, which left Mr Blaney as the main TD in the constituency.