Widespread welcome of Frances Fitzgerald's resignation

Political parties say it was the right decision for her to go

Widespread welcome of Frances Fitzgerald's resignation

Frances Fitzgerald is seen in this 2016 file photo after speaking to the media at Government Buildings about the O'Higgins Commission report | Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Political reaction has been swift following the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald as Tánaiste and Business Minister.

Taoieach Leo Varadkar confirmed he accepted her resignation "with regret", and nominated himself to take over the Business portfolio temporarily.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said the Tánaiste was right to resign.

"Deputy Fitzgerald is a well liked member of this House and has many achievements as a minister to her credit.

"I believe, however, she took the right decision today given recent revelations and the best interests of the country.

"And no one in this House takes any pleasure from Deputy Fitzgerald's resignation as Tánaiste and Minister - rather, everyone has to learn lessons".

Frances Fitzgerald is seen at the RDS in Dublin in 1999 | Image: RollingNews.ie

The deputy leader of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, said the issue has not gone away.

Hitting out at Mr Varadkar, she said: "You repeatedly misled the Dáil and supported a minister who had clearly failed in her duties.

"You stood by those who turned a blind eye to the smearing of Maurice McCabe, when you should have held them to account.

"And this was the first real test of your leadership Taosieach - and you failed it in a most spectacular fashion.

"So lets be clear: the Tánaiste is gone but this debacle is not over - not by a long shot".

Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall believes the election has only been put off for a few months.

"I think the agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael has been very much weakened by the events of the last couple of weeks.

"I think the Government has been very much weakened, and particularly Leo Varadkar.

"I would imagine that we're not too far from a general election - it has been averted today, it would appear - but I think we're looking at an election sometime very early in the new year".

Frances Fitzgerald is seen campaigning in Sandymount in 1997 | Image: RollingNews.ie

While the Green Party also welcomed Ms Fitzgerald's resignation.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said: "We welcome the resignation of the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

"We said from the start that now wasn't the time for an election, and we hope that this averts the prospect of an election before Christmas, with the country facing vital Brexit negotiations.

"However, there are still serious questions to be answered here.

"When the Taoiseach is amending his Cabinet to select a new Minister for Business, he should go further and ensure that the Department of Justice starts off in a new direction under a new minister.

"This crisis was centred not just on what happened back in May 2015 but what the Department of Justice was doing in recent weeks.

"Minister Flanagan took the same approach as his predecessor in overseeing a Department which held back relevant information. He too should step aside."

And business group Ibec said her resignation means the country has avoided unnecessary risk at a crucial time.

In a statement it said it welcomed the fact that the country would not be facing into a December election "at such a crucial juncture in Brexit negotiations."

"A new and potentially protracted period of political uncertainty would have been an unwelcome and serious distraction from the big domestic and European challenges facing the county."

Ibec said it is "vital" the work of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation continues once a new minister is appointed.