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County faithful urge Cowen to run in election

THE Offaly faithful last night pleaded with Brian Cowen to run in the upcoming general election.

Mr Cowen was not present for the Fianna Fail Comhairle Dail Ceantar meeting in Tullamore where 120 delegates gathered.

He has not yet informed the party if he will run in the general election.

However, he has to make his decision before Tuesday -- the date of the Laois-Offaly selection convention.

Fianna Fail organisers are keen for the Taoiseach to put his name forward as despite plummeting national popularity, they still believe he would easily keep his seat in the constituency.

Speaking after the meeting, his brother, Barry Cowen said the Taoiseach should be given time to make up his mind.

"The view of the meeting is most definitely that they would hope that the Taoiseach would run again. They realise that ultimately it is his decision and if there was a message to be given from that meeting tonight it is obviously one to ask him to consider running."

Barry Cowen said Fianna Fail members expressed gratification for the service his brother has given since 1984. "The least they can do is give him another few days to make up his mind," he added.


Barry Cowen -- who is the likely candidate to put his name forward if Brian Cowen decides not to run -- would not comment on his interest in this position. "We don't even want to contemplate that at this stage. The man is entitled to make a decision but he has our full support."

Criticisms of the media coverage of the Taoiseach -- and of the Lenihans -- dominated the meeting.

Party member Jody Gunning said the Lenihans "weren't very fair" to the Taoiseach. He also claimed the media "drove him into the ground" before adding that Brian Cowen was a "very straight gentleman".

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Apart from his brother, Brian Cowen's closest ally is Tullamore Councillor Sinead Dooley, wife of former Offaly hurler, Johnny Dooley.

Yesterday, Ms Dooley dismissed that the curtain was about to come down on Brian Cowen's political career.

"Fine, he's reached the height of his political career but to say there is no place for him anymore because he is at the pinnacle is wrong. At local level, there's nobody who can help people better than Brian Cowen. He can give people 100pc service like he's been doing since 1984. He can continue to do it," she added.

Earlier Mr Cowen said he was "reflecting" on his political life and talking to his family and friends about his decision.

"I'll make my decision known before the convention which is on this day week. I just have to try and find a bit of space with my own family to discuss it," he said.

So far, the four names put forward to run for Fianna Fail in Laois-Offaly are Brian Cowen, John Moloney, Sean Fleming and John Foley.