Charles Haughey's resignation as prime minister of Ireland at 66 will end -- presumably -- a career often compared to Houdini for its escapes, or to cats for its successive lives.
On Monday, Mr. Haughey will hand the resignation to young President Mary Robinson, a longtime adversary and political maverick. Cause of the downfall, ostensibly, was a retelling of an old scandal, the wiretapping of journalists in 1982 in search of a cabinet leak. But the real reason was an accumulation that includes scandals of alleged favoritism in state deals with the private sector and other matters. The wider context is 20 percent unemployment and a soaring national debt.
Mr. Haughey's Fianna Fail Party colleagues had enough, especially after their coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats, demanded his ouster. His successor is former finance minister Albert Reynolds, who was fired after leading a cabinet revolt last year but won a party leadership election yesterday. Mr. Reynolds should have no trouble finding support. The Progressive Democrats are Fianna Fail defectors who despise Mr. Haughey.