Cowen unveiled as Ahern's successor

Taoiseach-in-waiting Brian Cowen was publicly unveiled as Fianna Fáil party leader-designate today outside the Dáil this morning.

The Offaly TD is set to be appointed Taoiseach on May 7 after Bertie Ahern formally stands down from office.

A beaming Mr Cowen posed with his party colleagues on the plinth of Leinster House following his election at a special parliamentary party meeting.

TDs, senators and MEPs cheered their new leader as a battery of photographers recorded the beginning of a new era for the senior Coalition partner.

As he arrived for this morning's meeting, Mr Cowen, 48, told reporters he was "very excited'' to become the seventh leader of the Fianna Fáil party, which was founded by Eamon De Valera in 1926.

Today’s smooth transition of power was in marked contrast to previous bitter leadership battles under former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey.

Justice Minister Brian Lenihan, who proposed Mr Cowen for the leadership, said: “This is Brian Cowen’s day. It’s also a fantastic occasion for the party and the country.”

He added: “There is a sense of celebration and great satisfaction that the party has been left in such good shape by Bertie Ahern. It is a united party with great cohesion.”

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