Former Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is to lose his diplomatic standing as part of government cutbacks.

Cowen leads a long list of former Ministers and politicians who will surrender their rights to a diplomatic passport.

The move has been introduced by Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore as he seeks to cut costs.

The Sunday Independent reports that Gilmore has written to Cowen and 60 former ministers, parliamentary deputies and senior civil servants,

The paper says the Minister has requested that they hand back the passports as part of a reform programme.

The paper says that the wives of former Ministers for Foreign Affairs Michael O’Kennedy and David Andrews have also enjoyed use of a diplomatic passport and will be asked to relinquish them.

Charles Haughey’s widow Maureen Haughey is also set to lose her diplomatic rights when travelling abroad.

Former ministers on the list include Mary Coughlan, Tony Killeen, Dick Roche, Martin Cullen and Mary White.

Gilmore will present his cost cutting plan to cabinet on Tuesday according to the report and will ask for the diplomatic passports to be returned in the coming weeks.

The report adds that a recent review found there are 1,900 diplomatic passports and 7,400 official passports in circulation.

Former Prime Minister Brian Cowen - "Don't blame me - I was only the Taoiseach."Google Images