Irish premier to dissolve parliament for election

DUBLIN — Prime Minister Brian Cowen on Tuesday said Ireland's parliament is being dissolved for a long-awaited election.

Cowen made a final address to parliament Tuesday and declared an end to his government.

The actual election date is expected to be announced after Cowen meets Ireland's ceremonial head of state, President Mary McAleese, later Tuesday. Analysts forecast Feb. 25 as the most likely election date.

Cowen agreed to an early election, rather than trying to serve his full term to mid-2012, after suffering a string of political humiliations and losing his parliamentary majority.

The 51-year-old Cowen on Monday announced his retirement from politics after a 26-year career. He is Ireland's first prime minister not to seek re-election to parliament.