Former minister Carey steps down but denies 'any impropriety' after child sex abuse claims
Former Fianna Fail minister Pat Carey said he "absolutely and unconditionally denies any impropriety" on foot of speculation regarding sex abuse claims.
Mr Carey issued a statement last night to say that he was "distraught" to first learn of the allegations that were revealed by the Herald this week.
The ex-politician stepped down as Fianna Fail's director of elections and said he did not know whether he is the minister at the centre of the allegations.
But Mr Carey said he was aware of "rumour and innuendo".
"He absolutely and unconditionally denies any impropriety in this matter or in his 30 years experience as a teacher; as a community worker and in his public life," the statement issued through his solicitors said.
A number of people have given statements to gardai claiming that they were abused by a former minister in the early 1990s.
Gardai launched the probe after a woman, in her 30s, came forward to claim that she was one of those allegedly abused.
Officers have now spoken with a number of people who have given similar statements, alleging abuse in Dublin and midlands.
News of the allegations has sent shockwaves through Fianna Fail, which just last month appointed Mr Carey as their director of elections.
More recently the 67-year-old played a key role in the marriage referendum during which he came out publicly as a gay man.
The statement released by Eames Solicitors in Dublin last night described Mr Carey as a "respected person and entitled to his good name".
"However, in order to allow the good work of the organisations that he is involved in to continue without controversy or distraction he will step aside from all such roles to allow any investigation to take place," it said.
"This includes his role as chairman and member of many community and church-related organisations."
The solicitors added that Mr Carey does not know if the allegations being investigated relate to him but he felt "given the unfounded speculation" he needed to issue a statement "of his own volition and with a heavy heart".
It is understood that the abuse allegations are at the "lower end" of the scale, with sources saying they will be difficult to prove.
However, gardai feel there is enough similarities in the statements they have taken to warrant a full investigation.
The investigation, which is being led by the Garda National Protection Services Bureau, is likely to move slowly and officers are unlikely to speak with the ex-minister until the New Year.
Sources in Fianna Fail have told the Herald that they are "stunned" by the allegations.
Kerry native Mr Carey was a TD for Dublin North West from 1997 to 2011 and served as government chief whip from 2008 before becoming Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2010.
He also served as Minister for Transport in Brian Cowen's government, as well as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
When he was appointed Director of Elections last month, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Mr Carey was "respected throughout the organisation".
In a statement last night a spokesman for the party confirmed they had been notified of the former TD's decision to step aside.
"He has outlined his reasons for this in his own statement released through his solicitors. An announcement on his replacement as Director of Elections will be made in due course," the spokesman said.
Mr Carey lost his seat at the 2011 general election but remained active in politics.
He was widely praised for speaking publicly about his own life as a gay man during the marriage referendum earlier this year.