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Ireland Appoints Foreign Minister

October 8, 1997

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Defense Minister David Andrews was named foreign minister Wednesday, taking the lead role in the government’s involvement in Northern Ireland peace talks.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern appointed Andrews a day after the resignation of Ray Burke, 54, who was embroiled in controversies over a political donation he accepted and a deal with a Saudi sheik.

Andrews, 62, a veteran of 32 years in the Irish parliament, also served as foreign minister in 1992-93 in the government of then-Prime Minister Albert Reynolds.

Michael Smith, 57, a junior minister in the defense department, succeeds Andrews as defense minister.

Opposition parties had attacked Burke for accepting $20,500 as a campaign donation from a builder during the 1989 general election. Burke insisted no favors had been asked or given, but a government investigation was planned.

A new controversy blew up over the weekend over Burke’s role in giving 11 Irish passports to Saudi banker Sheik Khalid bin Mahfouz. The transaction, in return for a $13.7 million investment in the Irish Republic, was legal under Irish law.

Critics, however, said Burke might have breached stringent regulations governing such exchanges.

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