The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has announced he is resigning as the Prime Minister of the 26 Counties and as the leader of Fianna Fail.
Surrounded by his colleagues in the Dublin government, Mr Ahern addressed media outside the Dail parliament in a surprise news conference.
Ahern, who has beeen Taoiseach for almost eleven years, said he would resign on May 6. The date will allow him to go ahead with a “lap of honour” address to the joint houses of the US Congress and Senate in Washington on April 30.
The announcement follows further scandalous revelations centred on Ahern from the Mahon tribunal into political corruption.
Ahern had been expected to address the Dublin parliament this afternoon to tackle the issue of myriad cash payments, including British sterling, deposited to his and his family’s bank accounts while he was Minister for Finance in the 1990’s. The amounts of the payments under investigation by the tribunal amount to over a quarter of a million pounds. Ahern was under unprecedented and increasing pressure and his departure had been expected as some point later this year.
Some of his colleagues appeared emotional as Ahern said the work of government has been overshadowed by the work of the Mahon tribunal and he referred to “the barrage of commentary” and “incessant publicity” on the tribunal.
He claimed that he had never sought to pursue ‘personal interest’ during his time in office.
Ahern refused to take questions following his statement.