Irish parliamentary speaker to quit over expenses scandal

A spokesman for parliament said it was the first time a speaker had offered a formal resignation.

Irish parliamentary speaker to quit over expenses scandal

The speaker of Ireland's parliament, John O'Donoghue, said on Tuesday he would resign next week over the growing controversy about his expenses claims.

O'Donoghue, who has incurred some 90,000 euros ($132,600) in foreign travel expenses since becoming speaker in June 2007, was asked to quit by the two main opposition parties earlier in the day.

He also spent more than half a million euros on travel when minister for tourism between 2002 and 2007. O'Donoghue was due give a detailed reply to a parliamentary commission on Wednesday but will instead make a statement to the House next week.

A spokesman for parliament said it was the first time a speaker had offered a formal resignation.

O'Donoghue, who as speaker could only vote on parliamentary matters in the case of a tie, will return to the governing Fianna Fail party's benches, where he will boost Prime Minister Brian Cowen's razor-thin majority.

Cowen's junior partner, the Green Party, which holds the balance of power, will vote on whether to remain in government on Saturday. The expenses scandal has added to the strain on ties between the two parties.

Cowen needs a replacement speaker willing to back the government on a hung vote. O'Donoghue's deputy, the Labour Party's Brendan Howlin, is the bookies' favourite to take over.

Howlin's party leader, Eamon Gilmore, forced O'Donoghue's hand by earlier telling parliament he would recommend a motion of no-confidence in the speaker, and Enda Kenny, who leads the main opposition party Fine Gael, later backed the call.

"I regret to say this but I consider that your position is no longer tenable. I think you will either have to resign or I think you will have to be removed from office," Gilmore said, calling the "pattern of extravagance" unacceptable.


Reuters

Last Mod: 07 Ekim 2009, 15:41
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