Killeen will not contest election
Minister for Defence Tony Killeen has announced he will not contest the next general election.
Mr Killeen (58), a Clare Fianna Fáil TD, said the decision followed medical appraisal and advice in recent weeks. He has received treatment for bowel cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2008.
“I have informed the Taoiseach of my decision and I am deeply grateful to him for his backing particularly during my illness and cancer treatment," he said in a statement this morning.
"I am deeply grateful to my family, relatives, friends and the many dedicated members of the Fianna Fáil party in Clare who canvassed for me over the years. Their support and guidance has enabled me to carry out my duties to the best of my ability.”
Mr Killeen was first elected to the Dáil in 1992. He has successfully defended his seat in each subsequent election. He was a member of Clare County Council from 1985 to 1997.
Mr Killeen replaced Wille O'Dea as Minister for Defence in March of last year.
He is the third senior minister to announce he will not contest the election, following in the footsteps of Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey. Minister of State for Housing Michael Finneran yesterday announced that he would not contest the election.
Mr Killeen's announcement brings to 23 the number of TDs who have confirmed they will not be contesting the next election.
So far 11 Fianna Fáil TDs, 7 Fine Gael TDs, 3 Labour Party TDs, 1 Sinn Féin TD and an Independent TD have all confirmed they will not be standing in the election, which is expected to take place at the end of March.
"It has been a great honour to represent the people of Clare in Dáil Éireann and a privilege to serve as Minister," he said.
Mr Killeen previously served as minister of state at the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment, Department of Enterprise and Department of Communications.
A native of Corofin, Co Clare, Mr Killeen worked as a national school teacher before entering politics. He is married to Lily and has five sons.
Mr Kileen told RTÉ radio it was with regret he came to the decision but that he had no option other than to stand down following medical advice received in recent weeks.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said Mr Killeen had been a popular and respected figure in Irish public life for more than 25 years.
“Tony's departure from politics will be deeply regretted in his constituency. He has achieved much on behalf of his constituents and he has been, at all times, a hard-working, dedicated and articulate TD,” he said.
Mr Cowen said Mr Killeen had made a strong input since his appointment to the Cabinet but that he fully understood his decision not to seek re-election.
“He has shown true grit and strength of character in battling a serious illness in recent times. I want to thank Tony for his friendship and effort over the years.”