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Irish Prime Minister Announces Resignation

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern says he will resign on May 6, because of growing pressure on him from a tribunal probing alleged financial irregularities. VOA's Mandy Clark reports from London.

In an address to the nation from outside parliament in Dublin, Bertie Ahern said he had done nothing wrong, but he said continued speculation about his finances is taking the parliament's focus away from running the country.

"It is a matter of real concern to me that the important work of government and party is now being overshadowed by issues relating to me at the tribunal of inquiry into certain planning matters and payments," Mr. Ahern said. "The constant barrage of commentary of tribunal related matters has, and I believe will continue to dominate the political agenda at an important point for our country."

The tribunal is investigating allegations - strongly denied by Mr. Ahern - that he received improper payments from a property developer between 1989 and 1992. He has also been dogged by allegations about his personal finances involving loans in British pounds and dollars from private supporters in the Irish business community.

Bertie Ahern is a veteran politician. He became prime minister in 1997 and won international acclaim for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Britain's minister responsible for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward, told British TV the peace deal will be Mr. Ahern's legacy.

"His legacy here is that peace process, and that peace process is here to stay," he noted. "He was determined to change the lives for the people in Northern Ireland, just as Tony Blair was, and as a result of that determination it was possible to have that transformation."

Mr. Ahern had previously said this would be his last term in office, but that he did not intend to go until it ended in 2012. Finance Minister Brian Cowen is favored to take over as Irish prime minister until new elections are held.