29 Nov 2017

Irish Deputy Prime Minister resigns after a whistleblower controversy 

In the run up to Christmas, the last thing the Irish public wanted was a snap general election. But up to lunchtime on Tuesday, after a week of political posturing that had whipped itself into a crisis, it was looking increasingly likely.

Ciara Kenny
Ciara Kenny The Irish Times, Ireland
Source: The Irish Times
Irish Deputy Prime Minister resigns after a whistleblower controversy  - NewsMavens
Frances Fitzgerald in 2014. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

politics, scandal, women's issues

Just hours before a motion of no confidence was due to be tabled against her in the Dáil (parliament), the Tanaiste (deputy Prime Minister), Frances Fitzgerald, resigned from the government in the “national interest”.

Ms Fitzgerald had been under increasing pressure in recent days over her handling of the case of Garda (police) whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe. She had insisted she was unaware of the aggressive legal strategy by the then Garda commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, to discredit Sgt McCabe at a commission examining allegations of Garda malpractice in 2015. This week, it emerged that Ms Fitzgerald received three emails advising her of the approach.

Controversy over the Sgt McCabe case -- a complex one involving allegations of garda inaction, corruption and misconduct, as well as false claims of sexual abuse -- has led to the resignation of Ms O’Sullivan and her predecessor, a minister for justice, and now a Tanáiste.

Although the immediate threat of a general election has been quashed by Ms Fitzgerald’s resignation, trust between the leading party, Fine Gael, and its supporting party in the government, Fianna Fáil, which called on the Tanáiste to resign, has been damaged. Irish Times journalist Sarah Bardon reports on how the crisis came about, the Tanáiste's resignation, and how the government has been weakened by the whole affair.

Details from the story:

  • Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald resigned from government in the “national interest” on Tuesday.
  • She says that she acted in the public interest and has not received a fair trail but believes she must resign in order to avoid destabilizing the government.
  • She plans to stand before the Charleton tribunal to vindicate her good name
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