Fitzgerald secures nomination to run in election

by Mark O'Brien

FRANCES Fitzgerald will contest the next election after she was selected as a candidate at the Fine Gael Dublin Mid-West Selection Convention on Tuesday night.

Deputy Fitzgerald resigned as Tanaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation earlier that day over her handling of emails related to garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe while she was Minister for Justice.

The controversy had threatened to bring down the Government, with Fianna Fail set to bring forward a motion of no confidence in Deputy Fitzgerald if she did not resign.

In a statement, Deputy Fitzgerald said that she was resigning in the national interest.

She said: “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve in Government, but I believe it is necessary to take this decision to avoid an unwelcome and potentially destabilising general election at this historically critical time.

“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.”

Deputy Fitzgerald came under pressure to resign last week when it emerged that she had been sent an email in May 2015 informing her that the Gardai’s O’Higgins Commission of Inquiry legal team planned to question Sgt McCabe’s motives for whistleblowing.

She claimed that she had forgotten about the email and could not legally interfere with the strategy pursued by then-commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

But on Monday, documents released by the Department of Justice showed that two further emails had been sent to Deputy Fitzgerald in which she was advised about an “aggressive” approach being taken to Sgt McCabe by a senior garda officer.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar supported Deputy Fitzgerald, but support from within the Fine Gael party was said to wane following the revelations about the additional emails.

Fitzgerald said that she felt that her actions would be vindicated by the Charleton Tribunal, which is currently investigating the allegations made by Superintendent David Taylor.

He alleges that he was instructed or directed by former Commissioner Martin Callinan and/or Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, to contact the media to brief them negatively against Sgt McCabe, claiming that he was motivated by malice and revenge.

Deputy Fitzgerald is due to give evidence before the Tribunal in January.

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