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In numbers: Brian Cowen's tenure as Taoiseach

As one administration takes power, another steps down – so here’s some condensed figures on the Brian Cowen era.

THE MAIN FEATURE of the first meeting of a new Dáil is the ceremonial passing-of-the-baton from one government to another.

The strange feature about today’s transition, however, was that the outgoing head of government, Brian Cowen, is not a member of the new Dáil – and though he has the constitutional right to attend today’s first sitting, he is not expected to attend.

So as the new cabinet takes office, and the last one steps down, here is our guide in numbers to the outgoing Taoiseach and his administration.

1,036 – The number of days for which Brian Cowen will have been Taoiseach. He was elected Taoiseach by the Dáil on May 7, 2008, after Bertie Ahern handed in his resignation.

0 – The number of Fianna Fáil leaders who have been Taoiseach for a shorter period than Cowen. Albert Reynolds served in office for 1,038 days, according to the Irish Examiner’s figures – meaning Cowen claims the new record by two days.

88 – The number of TDs who voted in favour of Cowen’s appointment as Taoiseach in the sitting on May 7, 2008. They included all but one of the 78 Fianna Fáil TDs who then held seats, as well as the six Green Party TDs, the two former Progressive Democrats and three independents.

9,752 - the number of days for which Brian Cowen served as a TD; he was elected in a by-election in Laois-Offaly on June 14, 1984 and remained in office unbroken until February 25 of this year. He took the seat vacated by his late father, Bernard, who had sat for 2,413 consecutive days before his death.

26,022 - the number of votes won by Cowen in the 1984 by-election.

19,102 - the number of votes he received in the 2007 general election; that, in proportion, was the highest level of support he ever received at the ballot box, securing 1.6 quotas.

5 – the number of senior ministerial briefs filled by Cowen in his political career; he served as minister for Labour and then for Transport the 1992 government of Albert Reynolds; when FF returned to office in 1997, he was the minister for health, foreign affairs, and later finance.

-1.9 per cent - the quarterly decrease in gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2008, when Cowen came to power.

0.5 per cent – the quarterly increase in GDP for the third quarter of 2010, the most recent period for which figures are available.

5.5 per cent – the rate of unemployment when Brian Cowen came to power.

13.5 per cent – the rate of unemployment today, as Brian Cowen steps down.

38,300,000,000 – Ireland’s national debt in September 2004, in euro, when Cowen became Minister for Finance.

41,100,000,000 - Ireland’s national debt in May 2008, in euro, when Cowen became Taoiseach.

95,851,000,000 - Ireland’s national debt, in euro, as of last week.

20 – the number of minutes, according to the gallery itself, for which a guerilla painting of Cowen – pictured naked and sitting on a toilet, in a piece created by Conor Casby – was hung on the walls of the National Gallery of Ireland in March 2009. The Sunday Tribune, breaking the story, said the painting had been there for over an hour.

561 - the length, in seconds, of Cowen’s now-infamous Morning Ireland interview on September 14 last year – an interview which sparked suggestions among TDs, commentators and voters like that Cowen had been the worse for wear.

321,746 – the amount, in Euro, in pensions and other payments to which Brian Cowen is entitled in the next twelve months following his retirement from politics.

139,569 – the amount, in Euro, he will be entitled to for every year thereafter.

0 – The number of minutes Cowen spent in the Dáil today, his final day as the head of Ireland’s government.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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