Kenny calls on Taoiseach to resign

Fine Gael chief Enda Kenny has today urged Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to stand down as leader of the country over the ongoing controversy about his financial affairs.

Fine Gael chief Enda Kenny has today urged Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to stand down as leader of the country over the ongoing controversy about his financial affairs.

The opposition leader said it would be for the good of the nation if Mr Ahern stood aside to allow his cabinet fully focus on the affairs of government.

The call comes a day after Fine Gael confirmed it has made a formal complaint to the official public standards watchdog asking it to investigate the Taoiseach's tax compliance.

"We did that deliberately because I can not accept any more public pronouncements from the Taoiseach about these matters," Mr Kenny declared.

He accused Mr Ahern of misleading the public about his financial affairs since disclosures about alleged financial "dig-outs" in the early 1990s.

In the latest twist in a saga that has dogged the Fianna Fail leader, the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) is considering whether to investigate his tax compliance.

Fine Gael formally asked the watchdog to launch an inquiry into whether Mr Ahern met his legal tax obligations after the General Election in 2002.

SIPO can not act in such matters without a formal complaint.

Ethics legislation compels all TDs and senators to lodge tax-clearance certificates with the standards watchdog within nine months of the poll or submit a statement of application acknowledging outstanding tax issues.

"This is all his own doing, he has brought this on his own head," Mr Kenny told RTÉ's 'This Week' radio programme.

"If the Taoiseach had paid his taxes when they were due he would now be in a position to furnish a tax clearance certificate… in accordance with the law that he himself introduced.

"Now, he can not do that."

Mr Kenny said he accepted the word of Mr Ahern before last year's General Election that he would satisfactorily explain issues arising out of his financial affairs at the Mahon Tribunal.

"That didn't happen subsequent to the election. We had a motion of no confidence in September and since them matters have got even worse," he said.

"Frankly, I don't believe the Taoiseach. And I don't believe his explanations.

"From that perspective this is damaging and hugely corrosive to Irish politics… my belief is that he should go."

SIPO must now decide whether an investigation is warranted.

The watchdog - which has the power to refer complaints to the Director of Public Prosecutions - last year dismissed two complaints against the Taoiseach about loans or gifts in the early 1990s.

Michael Collins, the former Fianna Fáil TD for West Limerick, was the first TD to be prosecuted under the ethics legislation last September.

He was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence and a fine of €25,000 after being found to have obtained a tax clearance certificate by false pretences in May 2002.

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