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Page last updated at 07:27 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 08:27 UK

Irish parliament speaker to go

John O'Donoghue
John O'Donoghue confirmed he will resign next week

The speaker of the lower house of the Irish parliament has announced that he will stand down next week.

John O'Donoghue has been dogged by allegations that he misused expenses both in his current office and previously as a government minister.

Pressure grew on Tuesday as two more opposition parties called for his resignation.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore told the Irish parliament, the Dail, that he believed his position was untenable.

Records placed in the Dail library on Friday - the day of the Lisbon Treaty vote and 16 days after Mr O'Donoghue promised to reveal them as soon as possible - showed that in addition to his salary, he had claimed more than 200,000 euros in expenses over the past two years.

Limousine

Mr O'Donoghue had come under increasing pressure over a series of revelations about his spending, including reports he had taken a limousine between two terminals at Heathrow Airport rather than the airport's free shuttle service, a three-minute journey.

The Fianna Fail TD incurred 90,000 euros in foreign travel expenses since becoming speaker, or Ceann Comhairle, in June 2007, and spent more than half a million euros on travel while minister for tourism between 2002 and 2007.

He employed 10 people in his office, seven more than his predecessor.

Although the office of Ceann Comhairle is supposed to be politically impartial, he employed a political adviser who was earning a reported 100,000 euros a year.

Dail photo courtesy of RTE News
Mr O'Donoghue is the speaker of the Irish parliament, the Dail.

Mr Gilmore said his spending revealed an unacceptable "pattern of extravagance".

"I think you will either have to resign or be removed from office," he told Mr O'Donoghue.

That stance was backed by the largest opposition party, Fine Gael.

After negotiations between parliamentary whips, Mr O'Donoghue made a statement at 2230 BST on Tuesday.

He confirmed that he will resign next week, when he will make a statement to the Dail.

However, it is not yet known whether this will be soon enough for those who have called for his resignation.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he respected Mr O'Donoghue's right to make a statement to parliament.

The Fianna Fail leader said Mr O'Donoghue had been a most effective and fair Ceann Comhairle who had "acted with commitment and integrity".



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