Coughlan and Hanafin throw support behind Cowen

Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan and Education Minister Mary Hanafin have both come out in support of Brian Cowen as the new leader of Fianna Fáil.

The two ministers were both regarded as possible candidates for the job, but they confirmed that they believe Mr Cowen should take over as Bertie Ahern's successor.

European Affairs Minister Dick Roche has also declared support for Brian Cowen, as have ministers Micheal Martin, Willie O'Dea and Martin Cullen.

The comments suggest the Laois-Offaly TD may get the job without a contest.

However, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has refused to rule out a leadership bid, while Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern has also declined to publicly state his intentions.

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