Tuesday, December 12

Irish deputy prime minister to resign – Sky sources

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Ireland’s deputy prime minister Frances Fitzgerald is resigning, say Sky sources, as the Government is on the verge of collapse.

It came after political leaders met in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a snap Christmas election.

Talks have been taking place between Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin, leader of opposition party Fianna Fail, over the handling of a police whistleblower.

A no-confidence motion in deputy prime minister (Tanaiste) Frances Ftizgerald was due to be debated tonight in the Irish Parliament over Mrs Fitzgerald’s knowledge of an aggressive legal strategy against a respected Garda sergeant during a private inquiry.

In a scandal which stretches back more than a decade, Sergeant Maurice McCabe claims he has been the focus of a deliberate campaign to destroy his character after he raised concerns about police corruption.

There were renewed calls on Tuesday for Mrs Fitzgerald to resign or be sacked over a series of emails dating back to 2015 when she was Justice Secretary.

The emails showed she was aware of the strategy to target Sgt McCabe at a private judge-led inquiry into his claims of wrongdoing in the force.

The release of emails on Monday night undermined efforts by the Taoiseach and Mr Martin to reach a compromise over the row.

The scandal has undermined the fragile supply and confidence deal which allows Mr Varadkar’s minority government to operate with the support of the opposition.

The political instability has also threatened to impact the Brexit process, with the future of the Irish border likely to be discussed at a EU Council summit in December.

Mr Varadkar has threatened to veto the progress of the Brexit negotiations on to trade if it does not have sufficient assurances about the future of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Agreement on the border is one of three issues that has to be resolved before the EU has said it is prepared for talks to move on to trade.

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