Eight TDs ready to retire at next election, with many considering their position

 

A number of long-serving TDs are set to retire at the next general election, with other senior deputies currently considering whether or not to contest again

THE IRISH Times asked all 163 TDs if they would stand in the next election with the option of answering a) Yes; b) No or c) Don’t know/have not decided yet.

Not all deputies answered the survey, but the majority opted for the first option, with a number pointing out their answer was predicated on the outcome of a selection convention. Long-serving Fine Gael TD Jim O’Keeffe of Cork South-West was among those who did not comment, but The Irish Times understands he does not intend to run.

Veteran Labour deputy Michael D Higgins of Galway West confirmed he would not go forward. “I will not be contesting the next general election,” Mr Higgins said.

Jackie Healy-Rae, Independent TD for Kerry South, will also retire from the Dáil. “He has stated that he’s not going to run again,” according Mr Healy-Rae’s son Michael, a councillor who will bid to succeed his father.

Fianna Fáil sources have predicted former minister of state and ex-chief whip Tom Kitt could change his mind about his 2008 announcement to step down at the next election, but Mr Kitt re-iterated his position.

“After the change of leadership in Fianna Fáil in 2008, I outlined my position on this issue to the Taoiseach, to my constituency organisation and to the media: that I would serve out my time as TD for Dublin South and not run in the next election. I’ve said nothing to the contrary since.”

Fine Gael deputy PJ Sheehan, of Cork South-West, will not contest. He recently apologised for his treatment of gardaí who prevented him driving out of Leinster House grounds under the influence of alcohol.

The announcements of Labour TDs Liz McManus of Wicklow and Mary Upton of Dublin South Central, along with that of Fine Gael deputy Olwyn Enright in Laois-Offaly, have been well documented.

Mary O’Rourke of Fianna Fáil, who represents Longford-Westmeath, selected option ‘C’ in the survey. “I am actively considering my position,” she said. Fianna Fáil deputy for Cavan-Monaghan Dr Rory O’Hanlon indicated his constituents would be the first to know of his intentions. “Whatever decision I make in relation to the next general election will be first conveyed to the people who have worked for me and elected me as their representative for the last 30 years.”

Donegal North East TD Jim McDaid, who is without the Fianna Fáil whip, said he had not decided yet. Wicklow TD Joe Behan, who left Fianna Fáil and became an Independent deputy over 2008 budget cuts, also said he had not yet come to a decision. Dublin Central Independent deputy Maureen O’Sullivan, Tony Gregory’s former election agent who won the by-election in June 2009 brought about by his death, said the decision would be taken by a group: “This will be a matter for the so-called ‘Gregory Group’ when the time comes. We are absolutely determined to hold on to the Independent Community seat Tony Gregory held for 27 years.”

A spokesman for former taoiseach and TD for Dublin Central Bertie Ahern said: “He’ll deal with that at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum”. Minister for Health Mary Harney, TD for Dublin Mid-West, had been expected to step down. However, she has not declared her hand and even her closest aides now appear unsure of her ultimate intentions.

Fine Gael’s Lucinda Creighton, who represents Dublin South East, plumped for option ‘C’ in the survey. “Members of the Oireachtas should spend their time working to solve the enormous social and economic challenges of the nation rather than obsessing about getting re-elected. I am focused on fulfilling the mandate which I have and not becoming consumed with the next election.”

Others provided what might best be described as a qualified yes. Paul Connaughton of Fine Gael, TD for Galway East, said “yes, as of now”. Labour’s Jack Wall of Kildare South said “yes at this stage”. Fianna Fáil’s Michael Fitzpatrick of Kildare North said: “If my health remains as is I feel well enough at the moment to contest a general election. If one was called during this year I would definitely contest it.”