The Government has confirmed that the political journalist, Emily O'Reilly, will be the next Ombudsman and Information Commissioner.

The Dáil and Seanad will be asked to formally recommend her for appointment by the President to succeed Kevin Murphy, who is to retire on 1 June.

A native of Tullamore in County Offaly, Ms O'Reilly is currently a political columnist with the Sunday Times, having previously worked for the Irish Press, Sunday Tribune, Magill, RTÉ and Today FM.

The Minister for Finance paid tribute to the vigour, humanity and impartiality shown by the outgoing Ombudsman.

Charlie McCreevy said that the findings and reports Kevin Murphy made during the course of his work had led to many significant changes and developments within the public administration system.

Mr Murphy has been Ombudsman since November 1994, and Freedom of Information Commissioner since the office was created in April 1998.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Mr Murphy said he had planned to retire last year when he turned 65, but he had postponed it due to his role on the Referendum Commission during the second Nice Referendum.

The date was further pushed back because of his long-running row with the Revenue Commissioners over the repayment of overcharged tax, which has now been resolved with all his recommendations being implemented in the Finance Bill.

As Information Commissioner, he also recently criticised proposals to change the Freedom of Information Act. But his statement stressed that his decision to retire was made before that controversy, and was not connected to it in any way.