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Irish Deputy PM under pressure to quit

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29th-Nov-2017       
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Reuters, Dublin :
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald was under intense pressure from her own party to resign on Tuesday to avoid a snap election that is hours away from being called, a crisis that is casting a shadow over next month's Brexit summit.
The opposition party propping up the minority government said the deputy prime minister's refusal to quit would force the country to the polls in December, a position that hardened on Monday.
Ireland will play a major role in the Brexit summit next month, 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.
In public, Fitzgerald's Fine Gael ministerial colleagues continued to back her.
"There is certainly not a need for her to resign, the position of Fine Gael remains the same and the position of the Taoiseach (prime minister) remains the same," Simon Harris told reporters.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whom analysts say risks being badly damaged by the affair, said late on Monday the government stood behind her.
However the front pages of the Irish Times, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent newspapers quoted unnamed Fine Gael lawmakers as saying Fitzgerald had to resign.
One minister, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity as senior ministers were due to meet on Tuesday, said Fitzgerald was coming under serious pressure from within the party to resign and would have to go. Another lawmaker agreed.
National broadcaster RTE quoted Fine Gael backbencher Hildegarde Naughton as saying "it will be difficult" for Fitzgerald to stay in office, the first public call from within the party for her to step down.
Fitzgerald resisted calls to go on Monday from the majority of opposition parties after pressure mounted following the release of fresh documents about her disputed handling of a police whistleblower who alleged corruption in the force.

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