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Irish PM, Facing Corruption Probe, Resigns


Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who helped broker Northern Ireland's historic 1998 peace accord, has officially resigned.

Mr. Ahern delivered his resignation to Ireland's President Mary McAleese Tuesday afternoon, ending an 11-year tenure under which the Good Friday Accords ended 30 years of Protestant-Catholic warfare in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Ahern announced his resignation last month, as political pressure mounted over allegations of irregularities linked to cash payments he received as Finance Minister in the 1990s. He has denied any wrongdoing. The lower house of Ireland's parliament is expected to endorse his successor, Finance Minister Brian Cowen, Wednesday.

The prime minister marked his last day in office at a ceremony with hardline Northern Ireland Protestant leader Ian Paisley. Mr. Ahern met Mr. Paisley north of Dublin at the site of the 17th-century Battle of the Boyne.

In that battle, Protestant forces defeated the army of Catholic King James II., in 1690, blocking his efforts to return to the British throne. Today, Mr. Ahern and Mr. Paisley dedicated a visitors center aimed at promoting modern-day Protestant-Catholic reconciliation.

Mr. Ahern became prime minister in 1997 and won international acclaim for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process. Analysts say the historic peace deal in the British province will be his lasting legacy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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