Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has stepped down 2 years ago

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has stepped down

Frances Fitzgerald has stepped down as Tánaiste.

She issued a statement this afternoon saying:

"It is necessary to take this decision to avoid an unwelcome and potentially destabilising general election at this historically critical time.

"I would like to thank the Taoiseach for showing the same courage and determination to protect my good name that he displayed three years ago when he stood-up and defended the reputation of Maurice McCabe.

"What I admire most about the Taoiseach is that he has always believed in doing what was right - not what was popular or politically expedient. 

"I will always be grateful for his confidence and support and for giving me the opportunity to serve.

"However I decided that my continuation in office risks destabilising that good work and so I have decided to step-down so that this work may continue and the country can be spared an unnecessary election.

"I would like to thank all those who have worked with me over the years and I am so grateful for the incredible support I received from family, friends, supporters, staff, and my constituents in Dublin Mid-West."

Her decision to resign had already been confirmed by multiple political journalists prior to her statement.

Business Post journalist Hugh O'Connell had shared an unconfirmed report to Twitter on Tuesday morning, writing "Unconfirmed report from cabinet that Tánaiste to resign. I stress that this unconfirmed."

The early reports were backed up by Irish Times journalist Roisin Ingle, who wrote "Hearing that #FrancesFitzgerald" is writing her resignation letter ... so no election before Christmas but plenty of fall-out."

Fitzgerald's fellow Fine Gael TDs had originally continued to support the former Minister for Business, who has become entangled in a web of scandal since it emerged she was privy to information on the Garda's legal strategy in an alleged bid to undermine the credibility of whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Both Simon Coveney and Simon Harris publicly said that Fitzgerald should not step down.

Fitzgerald herself issued a statement last night clearly implying her intention to continue in her role as Tánaiste.

Department of Justice emails released on Monday evening revealed that Fitzgerald had been briefed on how to respond in the media when she was asked about the Garda legal strategy - receiving three emails on the subject.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said on Claire Byrne Live last night that it was imperative that Fitzgerald step down in order to avoid an immediate election.

Sinn Féin has also tabled a motion of no confidence in the minister that would have been voted on tomorrow. Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin described her position as "untenable" this morning.