Parties jostle for power as Reynolds goes
Friday 18 November 1994
It was Mr Reynolds' promotion of Mr Whelehan last Friday that caused the Labour Party to quit the coalition government.
Bertie Ahern, the Fianna Fail Finance Minister, is favourite to take over from Mr Reynolds, who is likely to remain as leader until a party meeting on Saturday to choose a successor. Mr Ahern is expected to face a challenge from Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the Justice Minister.
John Major wrote to Mr Reynolds yesterday praising his role in the Northern Ireland peace process and emphasising Britain's determination to press ahead with the initiative. However, there was concern among senior British ministers at the possibility that Dick Spring, the Labour leader and Irish Foreign Minister, may not serve in any new Irish government.
In his letter to Mr Reynolds, Mr Major wrote: ``I know that others will carry on where you have left off; and I know that you will continue your committed support for the process.''
But many uncertainties remain before a new government can take shape. Last night brought another bizarre twist when news of Mr Whelehan's resignation caused speculation that Mr Reynolds might yet be resurrected from the political dead. This seemed most unlikely, as Labour Party sources indicated they were not prepared to serve under him.
Yesterday morning Mr Reynolds bade a poignant farewell to power in the Dail, saying he looked forward to spending more time with his family. He announced his intention to resign as it became clear that substantial sections of his party were in favour of his departure.
On Wednesday night he admitted to the Dail that he had given an inaccurate account of the failure to extradite a Catholic priest, Fr Brendan Smyth, to face child sex-abuse charges.
There is as yet no sign of a general election as complicated manoeuvres began to elect a new Fianna Fail leader. This is expected to be a prelude to a period of horse-trading aimed at stitching together a new coalition.
In Dublin last night the most likely outcome appeared to be the election of Mr Ahern as successor to Mr Reynolds, followed by a new Ahern-Spring coalition. One looming deadline falls on Tuesday, when the Dail resumes. One possible problem is that Labour might find Mr Ahern unacceptable because he was also aware that the Dail had been misled about the Smyth case.
Other possibilities included a ``rainbow coalition'' of smaller parties excluding Fianna Fail or, if all negotiations fail, a general election.
Mr Spring, who remains pivotal to any new arrangement, said: ``The options are that you put some form of government together, or you fail to put a government together and then you have an election. It's all very simple - sitting down to do it isn't that simple, mind you.'' In radio and television interviews yesterday he steadfastly declined to comment on which Fianna Fail candidates might be acceptable to him. ``I'm not in the position of qualifying or disqualifying people from co-operating with the Labour Party,'' he said.
The weekend is expected to be a period of both stocktaking and political manoeuvring after an extraordinary week in Irish politics. One Fianna Fail backbencher, Micheal Martin, said: ``There's a sense of bewilderment and a sense of disbelief, still, that this has happened. It's still baffling me.''
The general feeling last night was that the peace process was unlikely to be threatened in the medium term.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 2 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 3 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming that the street artist's identity has been revealed
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...