Fine Gael's Richard Bruton has said the decision to remove the party whip from Cllr Therese Ridge over the findings of the Mahon Tribunal followed "a very detailed evaluation of the evidence".

Last night the party gave her seven days to resign from all committees associated with her role as a public representative, or face expulsion from the party on 1 July.

Fine Gael said it was ''unwise and injudicious'' of her to have accepted a donation from Frank Dunlop and that her relationship with him severely compromised her role as a public representative.

Mr Bruton said Ms Ridge had the right to appeal so he would not comment any further on the matter.

He also said he was delighted that Olivia Mitchell, whom he described as "a very good public rep and an excellent colleague", had been exonerated by the party inquiry.