Cowen, Brian (Ireland)

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A member of the Dáil since 1984, Brian Cowen took over as Prime Minister (Taoiseach) in May 2008 following the resignation of Bertie Ahern. Strongly pro-European, he regarded close ties with the EU as vital for Ireland’s economy. Having presided over increases in public spending as finance minister, he took office facing the challenges of an economic downturn that ultimately unseated his government.

Early Life

Brian Cowen was born on 10 Jan. 1960 in Clara, Co. Offaly, the son of Fianna Fáil politician Bernard Cowen. He was educated at Clara National School, Ard Scoil Naomh Chiaráin and the Cistercian College of Mount St Joseph. He then studied law at University College Dublin and the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland, qualifying as a solicitor. In 1984 he contested the Laois–Offaly by-election, caused by the death of his father, and succeeded him as the Fianna Fáil representative. Aged 24, he was the Dáil’s youngest member. In the same year he was also elected to Offaly...

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