Former minister Pat Carey has stepped down as the director of elections for the 26 County’s largest opposition party over shock sex abuse allegations against him.
Mr Carey, a Fianna Fail TD for Dublin North West from 1997 to 2011, released a statement through his lawyers in which he said he is also stepping down as a member of the party.
He is also to resign from a number of community and voluntary organisations, including as chairman of the Irish Red Cross, to allow investigations to take place.
Saying he was “deeply upset” at the allegations, a statement described a newspaper article entitled ‘Former Minister investigated by gardai over child abuse claims’, which did not name the 68-year-old, as “rumour and innuendo”.
It is understood a woman came forward in recent months and alleged the suspect behaved inappropriately towards her and sexually abused her when she was a child more than 20 years ago. Others have also since come forward.
The statement said he “has no knowledge of the actual complaints allegedly made”. He issued it and resigned various positions “of his own volition and with a heavy heart” because of the “unfounded speculation”.
A spokesman for Fianna Fail said an announcement to replace Carey as director of elections will be made in due course.”
Carey has previously served as Fianna Fail chief whip before becoming Minister of the Gaeltacht and Community Affairs in 2009 under then Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
He came out as a gay man before the same sex marriage referendum and was a prominent “Yes” campaigner.
Allegations of sexual abuse have become increasingly frequent in Irish politics. Another prominent gay rights campaigner, Senator David Norris, faced down sexual abuse allegations as he contested the election to Irish President four years ago.
More recently, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has faced allegations that he failed to adequately respond to claims that his brother and members of the Provisional IRA were guilty of sex abuse.
Mairia Cahill, who was lionised by the anti-republican media when she made allegations against Mr Adams in connection with her alleged abuse by a former IRA member, is this week expected to take up a seat in the Irish Senate.