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Pressure rises for Irish premier to quit over police scandal

DUBLIN — Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny faces mounting pressure from party colleagues to resign over his stumbling response to a police scandal.

Lawmakers in Kenny's Fine Gael party say their 65-year-old leader could be ousted next week if he doesn't voluntarily specify a resignation date.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan, a key Kenny ally, said Thursday that the turmoil makes a 2017 election more likely.

Opposition leaders accuse Kenny's weak minority government of failing to defend a whistleblower exposing corruption in Ireland's police force. Documents published this month suggest a government agency helped senior officers circulate malicious gossip that falsely branded the whistleblower as a pedophile.

Kenny, Ireland's leader since 2011, has faced withering criticism over his gaffe-prone defence of government actions.

Kenny's 9-month-old coalition government survived a parliamentary confidence vote Wednesday.

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