The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that he will not be making a statement on his personal finances before his trip to Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

The Progressive Democrats and the Green Party today again called on Mr Ahern to make a full statement on his personal financial affairs.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Ahern said that he was likely to be meeting his legal team on Wednesday or Thursday, and would not be making a statement on his personal finances before that meeting takes place.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Brian Cowen has defended the Taoiseach, saying the party would support him until he has the opportunity to explain his position.

At a party news conference, Mr Cowen said Mr Ahern was anxious to clarify the issues involved and would deal with the matter as quickly as possible.

His party colleague, Dermot Ahern, described leaks from the Mahon Tribunal as an attempt to 'down a good man'.

The Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said the 'circus' surrounding the current problems in Government must end.

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin, Mr Kenny said what we have witnessed in the last few days has been the implosion of the Government.

Mr Kenny also said he believes this is no way to run the country.

The leader of the Green Party, Trevor Sargent, has said he believes the Taoiseach has been economical with the truth about his financial affairs.

Speaking on RTE's This Week programme, Mr McDowell called on Mr Ahern to make a credible and comprehensive public statement on the issue.

The PDs say no purpose would be served by them leaving Government and handing over the Justice and Health portfolios to people who are unfamiliar with the issues.

Mr McDowell also said he would go back into Government with Fianna Fáil if a credible account was given by the Taoiseach and accepted by the Irish people.

Asked if he had full confidence in the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste refused to directly respond.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr Ahern said he had never received any improper payment from which he gained financially.

He also said he had never misled people about his personal finances and that he had no difficulty in explaining such details.

Speaking to reporters later, Mr Ahern denied misleading the Tánaiste.

Watch a special election programme featuring political reaction to Michael McDowell's press conference here