Irish deputy PM agrees to resign, easing
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[November 28, 2017]
By Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's scandal-hit
deputy prime minister resigned on Tuesday in a move that is likely to
avert a government collapse and snap election that could have threatened
crucial Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union.
A government source confirmed reports that Frances Fitzgerald would step
down, as demanded by opposition parties after the release of fresh
documents about her disputed handling of a police whistleblower who
alleged corruption in the force.
Fianna Fail, the main opposition party that props up Fine Gael Prime
Minister Leo Varadkar's minority government, said her resignation should
mean a December election would be avoided. It had warned it might force
a snap poll if Fitzgerald refused to quit.
Ireland's political crisis emerged in the run-up to a key Brexit summit
next month at which Varadkar is set to play a major role. He must tell
fellow EU leaders whether he believes sufficient progress has been made
on the future of the border between Ireland and the British province of
The border -- the only land frontier between Britain and the EU -- is
one of three issues Brussels wants broadly resolved before it decides
whether to move talks on Britain's divorce from the EU onto a second
phase about trade, as Britain wants.
[to top of second column]
Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland (Tanaiste) Frances Fitzgerald
speaks to the media at Government buildings in Dublin, Ireland, May
8, 2014. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
While Varadkar has likely avoided the prospect of having to travel
to Brussels in a caretaker capacity, his handling of the crisis has
badly damaged his governing Fine Gael party and relations with its
Fianna Fail opponents.
Members of the opposition Labour and Sinn Fein parties said as
Fitzgerald resigned that an election was still likely to follow in
the next three or four months.
(Editing by Catherine Evans)
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