Republic's election on February 25; POLITICS.
THE Irish people will vote for a new Government in four weeks.
More than a year before his term was due to end and with the once-mighty Celtic Tiger economy in tatters, Brian Cowen stood down as Taoiseach and the Dail was dissolved.
Mr Cowen, 51, who is not standing for re-election, said the vote would define Ireland's future.
Two months ago he was forced to accept an EU/IMF EUR85billion bail-out with an annual interest rate of 5.8%.
That humiliation is sure to be uppermost in voters thoughts as the election battle heats up.
Mr Cowen told TDs: "I believe we have worked hard to correct past failures and to secure the future recovery of our country.
"This election will define our economic future and it will decide whether Ireland moves forward from this recession, whether we prolong it or succumb to it."
FAREWELL Brian Cowen