Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald has resigned amid demands from the opposition Fianna Fail party, a report says. The news appears to have staved off a snap election that could impact Brexit.
Fitzgerald agreed to resign on Tuesday, saying she preferred to do so rather than plunge Ireland into a general election at a critical time for the country.
The pressure on Fitzgerald and her Fine Gael party had mounted on Monday after fresh documents were released about her alleged knowledge of the smearing of a whistleblower who claimed there was corruption within Ireland's Garda police force.
Fitzgerald said she had "decided to put the national interest ahead of my personal reputation." In a statement, she said she had decided to step down so "the country can be spared an unnecessary election."
The scandal also contributed to the departure of former Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who was replaced by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in June. The latest disclosed documents were said to show that Fitzgerald knew that senior police officers had tried to discredit the whistleblower, but that she had failed to defend him.
Uncertainty over the future of Fitzgerald had put Ireland close to the triggering of a snap general election, with a motion of no confidence in Varadkar's government slated for Tuesday evening. Varadkhar had stood by his deputy, even when it became clear her resignation would likely to avert any vote against his administration.
Fianna Fail on Thursday said it expected there would no longer be a no-confidence vote, should Fitzgerald resign. The party said its leader, Micheal Martin, had "put huge personal effort into resolving this issue and averting a general election."
Earlier on Tuesday, while heading to a meeting of Fine Gael ministers, Health Minister Simon Harris told reporters there was no need for Fitzgerald to resign.
"The position of Fine Gael remains the same and the position of the Taoiseach (prime minister) remains the same," Harris said.
The political crisis comes at a crucial time for Ireland, as Dublin struggles with the impacts of Brexit on the island of Ireland. Any EU summit is planned for mid-December at which the Irish government is expected to press Britain for more detail on how it can keep the Ireland-Northern Ireland border free
of customs posts and other barriers.
rc/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)