>> Ireland has narrowly avoided a pre-Christmas snap election after the Tanaiste, that's the Deputy Prime Minister, resigned on Tuesday. Frances Fitzgerald had been under pressure following her disputed handling of a police whistleblower who alleged corruption in the force. Still smiling as she arrived to work on Tuesday, she had until then resisted calls to quit, and had the backing of the Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar.
Reuters' Padraic Halpin says the Taoiseach may have taken too long to change his mind.>> The minority government of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is quite damaged by this episode. His party are very unhappy with him and his handling of the whole episode. The agreement he has with the main opposition party Fianna Fáil, by which his minority government functions, that's been badly damaged.
And I think a lot of members of Parliament, a lot of analysts say this can't last very long. So we're quite possibly looking at an election, not at Christmas, but perhaps in the next three or four months.>> The crisis had added another layer of uncertainty over a key Brexit summit next month where Ireland is to play a major role.
EU leaders are waiting to hear on whether sufficient progress has been made on the future of the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.>> The government is now precariously placed in Ireland. So if there's an election in three or four months time, that'll happen at a later stage in the negotiations.
And one would hope it'll be perhaps in the second phase by that stage. But there will be, we can almost say with certainty there will be an Irish election during the present negotiations at some point, and there will be a time when there isn't a government in Ireland.
>> Frances Fitzgerald said she decided to step down so that the country can, quote, be spared an unnecessary election, but she leaves behind a Fine Gael party in turmoil. Ireland's political crisis appears far from over.