The Minister for Foreign Affairs is to step down from the Cabinet on Wednesday next. David Andrews told the Taoiseach tonight of his wish to retire from the position. In a statement, Mr Andrews said that he had announced last year that he would not be contesting the next general election and now was the opportune time for him to retire from the Cabinet.

In the weeks before Christmas, David Andrews publicly rejected media speculation that he would be stepping down this year. However, in a statement tonight he said that, following his decision not to seek re-election to the Dáil, the time was now opportune for him to leave the Cabinet. He also said that he believed the Taoiseach should be able to present his future Cabinet team at the next general election.

David Andrews was first elected a Dáil deputy for the Dun Laoghaire constituency in 1965. He served as parliamentary secretary and Minister for State at a number of government departments before becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1992. In subsequent cabinets, he was Minister for Defence and Defence and the Marine before again becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ray Burke resigned in 1997.

With Mr Andrews' resignation, the Taoiseach has now to decide on the nature and magnitude of the Cabinet reshuffle. Amongst the names being mentioned for the Foreign Affairs post are the Minister for Health, Brian Cowen, the Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue and the Minister for Social Welfare, Dermot Ahern.