Irish deputy prime minister resigns over political crisis, avoiding snap elections

  • Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald is expected to announce her resignation this afternoon, according to local media reporting unnamed government sources
  • On Friday, opposition party Fianna Fáil, on which the minority government depends for support, tabled a motion of no confidence in the deputy prime minister
  • Fitzgerald's resignation prevents the vote from going forward, which if successful would have triggered a government collapse and snap elections before Christmas
Frances Fitzgerald, current Irish Deputy Prime Minister and then-Minister for Justice and Equality, at Dublin Castle on Nov. 10, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland.
Clodagh Kilcoyne | Getty Images
Frances Fitzgerald, current Irish Deputy Prime Minister and then-Minister for Justice and Equality, at Dublin Castle on Nov. 10, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald resigned Tuesday, avoiding a potential collapse in government and new elections.

The resignation came amid intense pressure for Fitzgerald to step down from within and outside of her own Finn Gael party, which leads Ireland's minority government and is headed by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

"It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve in government, but I believe it is necessary to take this decision to avoid an unwelcome and potentially destabilizing general election at this historically critical time," she said in a statement.#

"Throughout my career I have always sought to act with integrity and responsibility, and that is why I have decided on this occasion to put the national interest ahead of my own personal reputation."

On Friday, opposition party Fianna Fáil, on which the minority government depends for support, tabled a motion of no confidence in the deputy prime minister following allegations that she mishandled a whistleblower case while holding the position of justice minister in 2015.

Fitzgerald's resignation prevents the vote from going forward, which if successful would have triggered a government collapse and snap elections before Christmas. The political turmoil could have also complicated Brexit talks next month with the Irish border being one of the key issues still to be resolved in the negotiations.

In government talks over the weekend, Fianna Fáil leaders laid out the condition that the only way the vote could be prevented was if Fitzgerald stepped down. The development is widely seen as a win for Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.