Word from Dublin this evening is that the Irish government, led by Taoiseach (pronounced "tea-shokh") Bertie Ahern, is expected to collapse due to revelations about payments received by the Taoiseach 12 years ago, but not declared. Initial revelations focused on payments (said to be interest bearing loans, but revealed never to have been repaid) received by Mr. Ahern in 1993, following his separation from his wife (we didn't have divorce at the time).
Many of those who "loaned" the money went on to be appointed to state bodies and boards of semi-state bodies (including Aer Lingus). Many also refused repayment.
However, yesterday it emerged that the Taoiseach had received a payment of GBP£8k in 1994, for a speaking engagement in Manchester, again while Minister for Finance. The leader of the junior coalition partner (the Progressive Democrats), an irascible and blunt talking Senior Counsel (Irish QC) and former Attorney General, Michael McDowell, has demanded expanations for the payment - the donors, the reason for the speech etc, while Ahern - unwisely and frankly, incredibly - is maintaining that he was speaking in a personal capacity.
It's expected that McDowell will give Bertie Ahern an ultimatum; either he goes or the PDs will walk; the senior coalition partner, FF, could go on with the support of independent TDs (Irish MPs), under a new leader. However, it's likely that an election will have to be called by year end anyway, as if FF doesn't like to be beholden to independent TDs.
Interesting times on Kildare Street (where the Irish govt ministries are located) this evening ...