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Dail is hit by a third resignation

The beleaguered Irish government suffered its third resignation in a fortnight yesterday amid claims the coalition is at breaking point from internal dirty tricks.

Green TD Trevor Sargent dramatically quit his junior ministerial post at The Dail over his attempts to save a “concerned neighbour” from a criminal prosecution.

The opposition seized on the swift, but dignified, departure branding it a tit-for-tat attack launched by disgruntled Fianna Fail TDs angry at the resignation of former defence minister Willie O'Dea.

However, Green leader John Gormley refused to cast blame. “It's one of those times when, as you can understand, we're pretty shell-shocked at the moment and under these circumstances I don't want to give any hostages to fortune,” he said.

Mr Sargent quit after admitting he asked a garda to drop public order charges against a constituent.

Although the direct plea is against the law, the respected Dublin North TD claimed it was an error of judgment.

His resignation came less than a week after Mr O'Dea bowed to intense pressure from the Greens over wild accusations he made against a Sinn Fein councillor.

Mr O'Dea smeared Maurice Quinlivan by linking him to a brothel before denying the slur on a sworn High Court statement.

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