Official statements on Trevor Sargent resignation
Statement by Trevor Sargent TD
"A Ceann Chomhairle, I thank you for the opportunity to explain to the House the circumstances of the clinic enquiry I received in June 2008 relating to an assault in September 2007 which were partially reported in the media this afternoon.
"A victim of an assault came to me to voice his frustration at the slow progress being made with a case where he alleged he had been head-butted when he told me he had reported vandalism to parents of a child he had seen trying to remove a road sign in their housing estate.
"My intention was to ensure the Gardaí were aware I had received a representation from a victim in an alleged assault and that the full preparation of the case would benefit from witnesses not yet interviewed being interviewed before proceeding further. The victim was afraid for his safety, meanwhile.
"I accept however that although my actions in contacting An Garda Siochána were not a criminal offence, under Section 6 of the Prosecutions of Offences Act 1974 such a communication could be deemed not lawful. In this regard, I accept I made an error of judgement. Accordingly I hereby tender my resignation forthwith as Minister of State for Food and Horticulture."
Statement by An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen
“I have received Deputy Sargent’s letter of resignation which I accept with the utmost regret in the circumstances. Trevor Sargent has been a most constructive and positive member of the Government’s team. He displayed an outstanding commitment to his job and has always worked well with his colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.
"I know that Trevor vigorously pursued his responsibilities in the Department and can be satisfied that his time there has been very productive in furthering his objectives in that regard.
"I am particularly mindful of the positive role Trevor played in support of the formation of the Government in 2007 and look forward to his continued contribution to the work to which both parties are committed in implementing our Renewed Programme for Government.
"On a personal level, I accept that Trevor’s intention was to act in good faith, as outlined in his statement to the House and wish him well for the future”.
Comments by leader of the Green Party John Gormley
“I am greatly saddened by Trevor Sargent’s decision to resign as Minister of State.
“There is nobody in Leinster House – or in Irish politics generally – whom I admire more than Trevor. He has brought a unique mix of ability and talent, decency and honesty to Irish public life.
“Trevor’s departure is all the more difficult because he is more than just a colleague, he is a trusted friend and confidant.
“I note that in tendering his resignation he has acted promptly and without any self interest. That is totally in keeping with his approach to politics and the contribution he has made across the past four decades.
“Trevor will continue to serve the people of Dublin North as their TD with the same total dedication he has shown since June 1992. He will be missed from the Green Party team in government but he will continue to work closely with his parliamentary party colleagues.”
Comments by Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore
"Trevor Sargent acted with dignity and honour by tendering his resignation as Minister of State today following the disclosure that he had attempted to influence the Gardai to drop a prosecution pending against a constituent of his.
"However, there are some aspects of this affair that require further explanation.
How was it that this correspondence landed in the lap of the Evening Herald only now, some two years after they were written?
"Are we to believe that it was purely coincidental that this followed so soon after the enforced resignation of Willie O’Dea last week?
"In particular we need to know when the Department of Justice first became aware of this correspondence.
"This is the second Ministerial resignation to hit this government with the space of five days. Trust between the two parties in government has clearly been destroyed and this is a government that is holed below the waterline.
"This government is incapable of dealing with the serious social and economic problems we face. The longer they cling to power, the longer our recovery will be delayed."
Comments by Sinn Fein leader Caoimhghin O Caolain
“The resignation of Trevor Sargent contrasts with that of Willie O’Dea. The former Minister of State for Food acknowledged that he acted wrongly and consequently resigned. Trevor Sargent has acted appropriately in stepping down. Minister O’Dea had to be dragged twice through the courts and through the Oireachtas before he was eventually forced to resign.
“The Taoiseach should not now go through the charade of a reshuffle to fill the vacant Cabinet and Minister of State posts. This entire Government, which is totally discredited, should now resign.”