I wish to announce to the Dáil that I intend, following this statement, to go to Áras an Uachtaráin to tender my resignation as Taoiseach and that of my Ministers to the President. I will not be seeking a dissolution of the Dáil. On the basis of what is provided for in the Constitution, we will continue to carry on our duties until a new administration is formed. I have taken this decision for the good of the country, in the interests of stability and, in particular, to ensure the continuation of the peace process. I am doing this in the knowledge of the full support of my ministerial colleagues.
I have this morning received the resignations of the Labour Ministers and I forwarded them to the President with the advice that she accept them.
In the circumstances that have led to this decision I simply wish to state that it was never my intention to mislead the Dáil or withhold any material information from it. I sought a deeper investigation of the circumstances surrounding the handling of the Fr. Brendan Smyth extradition case from the new Attorney General and have been prepared to draw the appropriate conclusions without flinching. The same goes for my ministerial colleagues. The Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, offered me her resignation yesterday afternoon but I refused because I, like my ministerial colleagues, fully subscribe to collective responsibility.
It has been my privilege to have led a very successful and pioneering partnership Government over the past two years. We have had excellent results in the economy, showing an increase in employment, and we have produced many enlightened social reforms. I would like to think that it has been a compassionate Government.
There will be another time when I hope to set the record straight on the many hurtful and untruthful things that have been said about me and my family not alone in this debate but in recent times. I do not intend to do that now.
The most important achievement of this Government has been the breakthrough to peace in Northern Ireland with two ceasefires. It is a source of immense relief for all of us that the terrible cycle of death has been brought to an end. I thank all the brave people, North and South, who have helped both recently and during the years to bring this about. Now that I am no longer in a position to make a further contribution as Taoiseach I appeal to all those who are and will be in a position to influence the course of events to hold fast to and build on what has been achieved for the sake of everyone living on this island and for future generations.
When I became Leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach I set myself two political objectives — to achieve peace in Northern Ireland and on the whole island and to turn the economy around. I was fortunate in such a short space of time to achieve those two political objectives. Many political leaders set themselves in life certain priorities and goals but for whatever reasons were not around long enough to achieve them. I was fortunate to work with a team and together we were able to achieve our objectives in a short time.
It is with a sense of achievement that I can stand up to say those words today. I pay tribute to all my colleagues, both in Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party, for working with me in Government on behalf of the country on a Programme for Government which we set as a challenge for a period of four and a half years.
I take this opportunity to thank my wife, Kathleen, my children and grandchildren for their great support in carrying the heavy burdens of office. They are heavy burdens but the heaviest burden is always carried in the home — that is where the real strain and pressure is brought to bear. I thank them for their commitment and staying the course with me. There was a very happy family this morning to say "farewell".
It is proposed to seek leave to withdraw No. 7 on today's Order Paper and that the House adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 22 November 1994.