Category: Archive

Ahern to resign May 6

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The announcement appears to clear the way for finance minister Brian Cowen to take over as leader of Fianna F_il and assume the office of taoiseach.
Ahern made his announcement at a news conference in Dublin.
By holding off on his resignation for just over a month, Ahern will be able to take part in events marking the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, a landmark political deal that he helped forge.
It is also expected that Ahern will travel to Washington at the end of this month to address a joint session of Congress.
Ahern’s resignation comes after an eventful and lately stormy eleven years at the helm of Irish government.
He assumed power after the June 1997 general election and presided over a time of unprecedented economic advancement in the Republic.
But in more recent times it was Ahern’s own finances as much as Ireland’s that dominated headlines.
He has been coming under ever-closer scrutiny as a result of the investigations of the Mahon Tribunal that is probing allegations of corruption and illegal payments in Ireland’s planning process during the 1990s and including a period, 1991-94, when Ahern was finance minister.
As it happens, the tribunal came into being in the same year that Ahern became taoiseach (prime minister).
Ahern’s resignation announcement came a day after he began a court challenge aimed at limiting the tribunal’s scope and investigative powers.
Ahern has repeatedly denied that he ever engaged in corrupt behavior or in any way dishonored his office. He repeated this denial in his resignation announcement.
Ahern, who is 56, has been a member of D_il Eireann since Fianna F_il’s landslide victory in the 1977 general election.
Ahern led his party to three general election victories, 1997, 2002 and again last year.
“The priority I put above all others was to work for peace on this island, and I have given all to that cause,” Ahern said in his resignation announcement.
“I know in my heart of hearts I have done no wrong and wronged no-one. My decision is motivated by what is best for the people. It is a personal decision.
“I will not allow issues related to my own person to dominate the people and the body politic,” he said.
Ahern was most recently in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day when he visited Washington and met with President Bush and other U.S. political leaders.
His next visit to Washington will provide a dramatic backdrop for his final days in office.
He will then formally tender his resignation from the office of taoiseach to President Mary McAleese on Tuesday, May 6. He will resign as Fianna F_il leader on the same day.

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