Finance Minister Brian Cowen is confirmed to become the Republic of Ireland's new Taoiseach, also known as prime minister, after Bertie Ahern unexpectedly resigned last week.

Cowen, 48, was the only contender for leadership of the ruling Fianna Fail party when nominations closed on Saturday, the government Chief Whip Tom Kitt confirmed. Cowen had been Ahern's expected successor for a long time. The only obstacle standing in his way was removed last night when Transport Minister Noel Dempsey confirmed he would not mount a challenge for the post.

The Irish Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister was the only member to put his name forward to succeed Bertie Ahern on May 6. The Only Transport Minister Noel Dempsey refused Thursday to endorse Cowen

Last Wednesday Bertie Ahern announced he was stepping down, amid on-going inquiries over his private finances.

Fianna Fail lawmakers will formally declare Cowen their new leader at a meeting Wednesday, making him the seventh leader of the parliamentary party. Cowen has been Ahern's expected successor for a long time.

Fianna Fail, which is pronounced FEEN-uh Fall, means Soldiers of Destiny in the native Irish language of Gaelic.