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Ireland on the verge of snap election as crisis deepens

Ireland on the verge of snap election as crisis deepens
From Reuters - November 27, 2017

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland was on the verge of a snap election on Monday after the opposition party propping up the minority government said the deputy prime ministers refusal to quit would force the country to the polls next month.

The political crisis that deepened dramatically late on Monday has left the countrys two main parties with less than 24 hours to head off a general election in a dispute that cast a shadow over a key Brexit summit next month.

Ireland will play a major role at the meeting, telling EU leaders whether it believes sufficient progress has been made on the future of the border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

The pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald of Varadkars Fine Gael party mounted on Monday following the release of fresh documents about her disputed handling of a police whistleblower who alleged corruption in the force.

Fianna Fail, whose backing Varadkar requires from the opposition benches to keep his government functioning, has said it will move a motion of no confidence in Fitzgerald at 2000 GMT on Tuesday unless she quits, a position that hardened on Monday.

I think the Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) should recognize that unless she does stand aside, she is going to force this country into an election nobody wants, that nobody needs and is not in the countrys interests, senior Fianna Fail MP Jim OCallaghan told national broadcaster RTE.

I dont see any other method out of this.

Varadkar has insisted that if the motion is not withdrawn, he will be forced to hold an election before Christmas, a prospect EU officials say would complicate the EU Brexit summit on Dec. 14-15.

A compromise had appeared possible earlier in the day when senior members of both parties struck a more conciliatory tone, but the momentum shifted instantly upon the release of the new documents.

Fitzgerald said last week that she did not recall receiving an email in May 2015 that detailed an attempt to discredit a police whistleblower whose allegations of widespread misconduct in the force cost her predecessor his job as justice minister.

The correspondence released on Monday showed Fitzgerald also received two more emails about the strategy in July 2015, but she resisted calls from all parties to resign, saying an ongoing a judge-led tribunal should judge her conduct in January.

A spokesman for Varadkar, who is due to meet Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin again on Tuesday morning in a bid to avoid the election, said the government was standing by Fitzgerald.

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