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His position was untenable and he made right decision

THE position of Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach had become "untenable" following recent controversial evidence at the Mahon Tribunal, Sinn Fein said last night.

Welcoming the Taoiseach's resignation, Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said it represented a fresh opportunity for a new direction in policy. He called for Health Minister Mary Harney to also resign.

Mr Ahern's successor, he said, should work for the delivery of an equitable and efficient health service.

"His announcement to step down is the right decision," he said.

"The glaring contradictions in his evidence which had been exposed at the Mahon Tribunal have made his position as leader of this government unsustainable."

Mr Caolain, the TD for Cavan-Monaghan, said he was welcoming the resignation in the context of the Government's "complete failure" to deliver an "equitable and efficient and truly reformed" public health service.

"That said, it must be acknowledged that Bertie Ahern's contribution to the development of the peace process was significant. He built on the work of his predecessor Albert Reynolds and played a key role in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

"The developing all-Ireland political process will require renewed energy and a more vigorous approach from Bertie Ahern's successor."

He said Mr Ahern's successor should establish an equitable health service, prioritise education and abandon privatisation.

"The departure of Mary Harney along with Bertie Ahern would help but we will not hold our breaths," he said.

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