One of the Government’s longest serving ministers resigned from the Cabinet tonight.
Seamus Brennan has stepped down as Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, saying he was taking the decision on medical advice.
The Dublin South TD, who was first elected to the Dáil in 1981, has held six senior and four junior ministerial posts .
In a letter to Taoiseach-in-waiting Brian Cowen, Mr Brennan asked not to be considered for a position in his new Cabinet line-up which will be revealed tomorrow.
His resignation was accepted by Mr Cowen, who was tonight unanimously elected as Uachtaran Fianna Fail at a special meeting of the Fianna Fail Ard Chomhairle.
Minister Cowen – who is now the seventh President of Fianna Fail – told a packed National Executive meeting that becoming party leader was the greatest honour of his political career to date.
Mr Brennan’s news broke shortly after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tendered his resignation to President Mary McAleese.
His departure now leaves extra space in the front bench.
Mr Cowen, who will also be elected as Mr Ahern’s successor in the Dáil tomorrow, must also find a candidate for his current role as Finance Minister.
A native of Galway, Mr Brennan served as Senator from 1977 and was first elected to the Dáil in 1981.
He became a junior minister at the Department of Industry and Commerce in 1987 before serving as minister with a range of departments including tourism, transport, education, and more recently social and family affairs.