Three down, next one up

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister to you), tendered his resignation to the President at 6.10pm yesterday. Today Brian Cowen, his multi-chinned successor as leader of Fianna Fail, will be elected Taoiseach when the Dail (Parliament) meets.

Interesting Fact #1: Fianna Fail is the political wing of the Irish construction industry.

Interesting Fact #2: Cowen’s last three predecessors as Fianna Fail leader have had to resign because of, er, difficulties over money. Charlie Haughey went because evidence of his deep-seated corruption became too widespread to be ignored. His successor Albert Reynolds went because a public inquiry into subsidies to beef exporters had unearthed unsavoury details about his time as Minister of Commerce. And Bertie Ahearn walked because the evidence to the Moriarty Tribunal about his astonishing personal finances was making the normal business of government impossible.

It will be interesting to see if Mr Cowen can break this impressive mould.