Avril Doyle declines to contest European election


Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle has announced she will not be running in the forthcoming European elections.

Ms Doyle, who represents the East constituency, leads the Fine Gael delegation to the European People's Party and European Democrats group in the European Parliament.

Ms Doyle (59), who was born in Dublin, became the first female mayor of Wexford in 1976. She was first elected to represent Wexford in the Dáil in 1982 and was appointed minister of state with responsibility for public works and the environment by Garrett Fitzgerald in 1986.

She retained her Dáil seat in the 1987 general election, lost it in 1989 and regained it in 1992. She served as minister of state in the Rainbow Coalition of 1994 before losing her seat in 1997.

Ms Doyle was a Senator from 1989 to 1992 and again from 1997 to 2002, when she did not seek reelection.

She was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999 to represent the Leinster constituency. She contested the 2002 general election in Wexford, but failed to win a seat. She was then re-elected in the 2004 European election to represent the newly named East constituency.

Last month, she successfully helped steer the EU’s ambitious climate change package through parliament. She helped draft one of the key elements of the package.

Speaking this afternoon, Ms Doyle said she was stepping down because she felt it was “time”.

“It’s time to reclaim my own agenda on a professional level after 35 years as a public representative,” she told RTÉs News At One.  

Ms Doyle said her desire to leave politics was a "badly-kept secret within certain sectors of the party" for some time. She said she spoke to party leader Enda Kenny last weekend to inform him she would be making her plans public. 

She wished Fine Gael “every success” in the European and local elections. “The party is very high in the polls at the moment…and now it could be the time to blood a new candidate,” she said.

Mr Kenny said in a statement Ms Doyle has served the electorate “with skill, commitment and integrity” and has established a reputation “as a very formidable and influential legislator” during her time in the European Parliament.

"Her recent work on behalf of the Parliament on the emissions trading system has won her deserved praise throughout the EU decision-making process,” he said. 

In a joint statement, Fine Gael's four other MEPs Colm Burke, Jim Higgins, Mairead McGuinness and Gay Mitchell paid tribute to Ms Doyle. “As a public representative of some 35 years she has always been strong, capable and principled; as a colleague she has been generous and supportive," they said.