Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s brother, Councillor Barry Cowen, has been chosen by Fianna Fáil to contest the General Election in the Laois-Offaly constituency.

Cllr Cowen was selected alongside John Moloney and Sean Fleming after a convention in Tullamore chose to run three party candidates in the constituency.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's deputy whip John Cregan has pulled out of the General Election campaign in a row over the party's new frontbench.

In a statement, Deputy Cregan said he had been willing to contest the election in Limerick despite the difficulties involved in the hope that the party could still win two seats.

However, following the elevation yesterday of his constituency colleague Niall Collins to the frontbench, the playing field was 'no longer level'.

Deputy Cregan said the party leader's choice had 'sent out a very clear signal to me and indeed the Constituency that he was strongly favouring one candidate above the other'.

He added that this should not happen at election time.