Socialist TD Higgins to retire at end of Dáil term
Joe Higgins will not contest the next general election
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has said he will not contest the next general election. Photograph: Alan Betson
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins will not contest the next general election and will retire from national parliamentary politics at the end of this Dáil term.
The Deputy for Dublin West and former MEP has disclosed that the forthcoming byelection brought forward the timing of an announcement he was likely to make.
“When the next general election arrives in 2016 I will be 67, and I am very anxious that a new generation of Socialist Party public representatives are continuing, if you like, the work that the party and I have done for quite a lengthy period.”
The party’s candidate in the byelection, Ruth Coppinger, is one of the favourites to win the seat left vacant by the resignation of Independent TD Patrick Nulty. “Questions would have arrived in the context of a byelection that if we won a seat, would Ruth Coppinger and me be standing in the next election.
“Would it be possible for the Socialist Party to take two seats [in 2016]? I feel it is better to clarify the position now.”
The decision will bring to an end a long and eventful career in representative politics for Mr Higgins, a native of Lispole in the west Kerry Gaeltacht.
A former seminarian, Mr Higgins has an intense and ascetic public persona but is also known for his witty and memorable turn of phrase.
He was first elected to the Dáil in 1997. He lost his seat in 2007 but pulled off a major coup by winning one of three Dublin seats in the European Parliament in 2009. He regained his Dáil seat in 2011.
Mr Higgins said he would remain active in politics.