Ahern to resign as Taoiseach and FF leader on May 6th
Bertie Ahern has sensationally announced that he will be resigning as Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader next month.
Mr. Ahern made the surprise revelation during a hastily arranged press conference at government buildings this morning.
In a very emotional statement Mr. Ahern said: "I have been privileged to serve my community, country and party for many years.
"This is solely a personal decision, what I announce today is inspired by a desire to re-focus the political dynamic in this country."
He gave special thanks to the people of his constituency, his family and political colleagues, Mary Harney in particular whom he described as a 'good friend'.
The Taoiseach reflected on his role in the Northern Ireland peace process and his efforts to bring peace to the island of Ireland.
Mr. Ahern went on to say that the work of the Government had been "distracted by my life, my lifestyle and my finances."
In a reference to allegations made at the Mahon Tribunal he said: "I know in my heart of hearts that I've done no wrong and wronged no-one.
"Understand one thing: never in all the time I served in public life have I ever put my personal interest above the public good."
The Taoiseach then went on to deliver his resignation "I've decided, on my own volition, to complete my duties over the next month, and then it is my intention to tender my resignation to President Mary McAleese on Tuesday, 6th of May.
"I will also be standing down as leader of Fianna Fail"
The development comes amid ongoing controversy over contradictions in his evidence to the Mahon Tribunal about bank lodgments in the 1990s.
Mr. Ahern has been under growing pressure since a former secretary at his constituency office admitted that she lodged Sterling on his behalf to accounts in the Irish Permanent.
He had previously told the tribunal that the lodgments were the proceeds of his pay cheques.
Last week, Green Party leader John Gormley and PD leader Mary Harney both called on Mr. Ahern to clarify the matter and dispel public disquiet about the sums of money passing through his bank accounts in the 1990s.
However, several of his Fianna Fail cabinet colleagues have come out steadfast in his support, saying he should not have to explain matters until his next appearance at the tribunal.
Speaking in an interview with RTE news Senator and Sunday Independent columnist, Eoghan Harris, defended the Taoiseach saying: "Bertie Ahern has never been a corrupt man and time will tell that this has been a bad day for Ireland."
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to Bertie Ahern: "He will always be remembered for his crucial role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland, for transforming relations between Britain and the Irish Republic and for presiding over a sustained period of economic and social advance in Ireland."
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny described it as a "sad day for the Taoiseach personally", then called for for Ahern's successor in the Fianna Fail Party to "let the people decide who they want to lead the country".
Bertie Ahern's career
1951: Born in Dublin
1977: Elected to the Dáil
1991-1994: Minister for finance
1994: Fianna Fáil leader
2007: Leads Fianna Fáil to third election victory, begins third term as Irish PM