Taoiseach's retirement statement in full
Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced that he would not contest the upcoming General Election. In a statement to the nation Mr Cowen said:
"In the next few weeks, the people of this country will be asked to vote in a very important General Election. Decisions have to be made which will affect all citizens, both now and into our future.
"I hope that all those involved in the campaign treat the issues with the respect, consideration and measured analysis they deserve.
"I said previously that I was going to reflect on my own position and whether I would offer myself for re-election. I have done that.
"I am humbled by and grateful for the many messages of support I have received. The genuine decency and warmth of people in this country is one of our finest traits and long may that be so. Buíochas ó chroí libh.
"Having considered the situation with my family, close colleagues and friends over the past number of days, I have decided not to put my name forward for selection as a candidate in the Laois-Offaly constituency for the forthcoming election.
"Although I am conscious that the Laois-Offaly Fianna Fáil organisation’s support remains available to me, they also made it clear that the decision rests with me and my family and that they will respect that decision. I thank them for their understanding and their solidarity.
"Is mór an dul chun cinn atá feicthe agam sa tír seo ó thosaigh mé sa Dáil agus is cúis bróid dom é sin.
"Ach is cúis bróin dom an cúlú a tharla dúinn mar phobal le roinnt blianta anuas, de bharr an géarchéim eacnamaíochta idirnáisiúnta.
"Guím gach rath orthu siúd a thoghfar sa toghchán seo agus iad ag dul i ngleic leis na fadhbanna atá romhainn ar fad. Tá dóchas agam go dtiocfaidh muintir na hÉireann as seo, mar a tháinig muid as géarchéimeanna cheanna.
"Fianna Fáil faces new challenges ahead. We will do so with a new leader, and a new team. I am proud and grateful to have served with each and every one of my party colleagues. I pledge them my full support and wish them well.
"I look forward to addressing the Laois -Offaly Fianna Fáil convention tomorrow night, when I can express my deep appreciation and gratitude to my constituents and supporters for the consistent and steadfast support they have given to me throughout my career and in seven successive elections.
"I will also be taking the opportunity to reiterate Fianna Fáil’s continuing commitment to address those issues that affect our people in pursuit of the common good.
"Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le mo chomrádaí sa Dáil agus ar Údaráis Áitiúla an Dáil ceantair, go h-áirithe iad siúd nach bhfuil linn a thuile.
"D’oibre muid le céile mar fhoireann aontaithe i gcónaí.
"I have been greatly assisted down the years by the commitment of past and present local councillors at County and Town level. We have always worked together as a team.
"But of course, my deepest gratitude of all belongs to my family for their support, forbearance and encouragement at all times. To my wife Mary, my daughters Sinéad and Maedhbh, go raibh míle míle maith agaibh. To my mother and brothers my sincere thanks also.
"The work of a TD in serving the daily needs of individual constituents and local community organisations could not be done without the dedication, discretion and professionalism and of my constituency staff, who greatly assisted me in that important work.
"In particular, I want to thank my Constituency Secretary, Councillor Sinead Dooley, who along with Elaine Hogan and Colette Waters managed a considerable workload in my constituency office in Tullamore.
"I would also like to thank Peter Lenehan, Annette McManus and Yvonne Graham who attended to constituency matters and wider political representations in my Dublin office.
"I also want to acknowledge the many years of dedicated service to both my father and I by the late Patricia Johnson, our former constituency secretary, who worked in our office in Clara for many years."