Irish deputy PM Fitzgerald resigns to avert possible gov’t collapse

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald told Ireland’s cabinet Tuesday that she will resign — potentially averting a feared collapse of Dublin’s government.

Ireland Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald resigned Tuesday following a week of political tensions, which included fears that the Dublin government could collapse with a vote of no confidence. File Photo by Julien Warnand/EPA-EFE
Ireland Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald resigned Tuesday following a week of political tensions, which included fears that the Dublin government could collapse with a vote of no confidence. File Photo by Julien Warnand/EPA-EFE

Fitzgerald’s resignation will save the current coalition government that’s led by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, and prevent a call for pre-Christmas elections — which could have weakened Varadkar’s position at negotiations next month on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Fitzgerald has faced criticism for her handling of information about Sgt. Maurice McCabe, a Dublin police officer who alerted the government of widespread corruption in the police force in 2015.

Documents emerged Monday showing that Fitzgerald, Ireland’s justice minister at the time, had been aware of a proposed smear campaign against McCabe.

The new information prompted members of Fitzgerald’s Fine Gael party to suggest she resign before a vote of no confidence — and a possible collapse of the government coalition — could be arranged by the competing Fianna Fáil party. Fine Gael relies on Fianna Fáil’s support in the Irish parliament.

A no confidence vote scheduled for Monday evening was tabled, allowing Fitzgerald’s resignation to proceed.

Fitzgerald told the cabinet Tuesday that she’s resigning in the interests of the country, and to avoid a general election. She added that she’d not been forced or asked to resign.

By Ed Adamczyk