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Friday 16 November 2018

Resignation welcomed, but the storm is not over

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

Frances Fitzgerald's resignation has been welcomed by opposition parties - but their responses suggest the controversy is far from over.

Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin acknowledged the outgoing Tanaiste had "many achievements as a minister" as he welcomed her resignation.

The opposition leader struck a consolatory tone as he said nobody in the Dail "takes any pleasure from Deputy Fitzgerald's resignation as Tanaiste and Minister".

Instead, he said, TDs "must learn lessons, the most fundamental being the nature and quality of the relationship between this Parliament and Government".

Guilty

He said the Government had been guilty of refusing to engage on key questions relating to the treatment of Garda whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

"Genuine issues were raised by the opposition for over three weeks and were dismissed for far too long," he said.

"At the core of this has been the appalling mistreatment of Maurice McCabe by the institutions of the State.

"Every citizen has a stake in the vindication of his integrity and good name."

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald was less sympathetic towards the now former Tanaiste, saying her resignation came after a week of "dithering and scrambling for cover".

She said Ms Fitzgerald had taken the "honourable course" and "finally" resigned.

"We have had a week of the Taoiseach and the leader of Fianna Fail desperately conniving to sidestep or avoid genuine accountability. Today, at last, we now have the right outcome. But it should not have taken this long."

The Dublin Central TD said it was clear some time ago that Ms Fitzgerald "had to go, not for fear of an election but because of her grave failures as the Minister for Justice and Equality".

"The Taoiseach failed to act decisively and take the appropriate action. He believed that he could brazen this out. Instead of acting as the Taoiseach should, he played a game of bluff and a game of political poker with his partner, Deputy Micheal Martin," Ms McDonald told the Dail.

Debacle

People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett demanded more Dail time be assigned to debate the fallout from the debacle.

"This is the establishment trying to put the lid back on the can of worms that has been opened.

"It is quite extraordinary," he said.

However, Independent Alliance Minister Finian McGrath said Ms Fitzgerald made the move "in the interests of the country".

"We believe this was the correct decision for Ms Fitzgerald to make," he said. "We recognise the considerable work she has done as a minister in different portfolios, in particular her commitment to the Children's Referendum."

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