Opposition party leaders demanded a statement from the former Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Ivor Callely, in the Dáil this morning following his resignation.

Mr Callely's position had become increasingly untenable after it was revealed on RTÉ News yesterday morning that one of the country's biggest construction companies paid for work carried out at his home in the early 1990s.

Prior to the announcement of his resignation in the Dáil, Mr Callely told RTÉ Radio he had asked the Taoiseach for a thorough investigation into what he called the false, mischievous and sinister campaign that had been waged against him.

Bertie Ahern told ministers that Mr Callely tendered his resignation in the public interest and in view of the fact that the ongoing controversies made it impossible for him to effectively and productively carry out his ministerial duties.

Mr Ahern said he thanked the deputy for his dedicated contribution to the work of the Government in his roles in the Department of Health and Children, and the Department of Transport over the past three years.

The Taoiseach then insisted Mr Callely had opted not to exercise his right to make a personal statement to the house.

Cabinet meeting

Mr Callely's resignation followed talks with the Taoiseach this morning ahead of a special Cabinet meeting.

The meeting was convened in the event of Mr Callely refusing to resign.

Earlier, the Minister for Family and Social Affairs, Séamus Brennan, said he believed Mr Callely would lose his portfolio. Mr Brennan was speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland.

It emerged yesterday that Mr Callely had his house in Clontarf, Dublin, painted for free by a firm of building contractors.

When the Taoiseach spoke about the matter in the Dáil yesterday, he said he was not impressed.

Following a meeting between Mr Ahern and the Tánaiste, Mary Harney, a spokesperson said they were at one in their concern over the issue.