Meath FF TD Wallace to retire
Fianna Fáil TD for Meath East Mary Wallace has announced she will not contest the next general election, bringing to an end her 30-year career in politics.
The retirement of the former minister of state was confirmed in a statement today. Her decision brings to 27 the number of sitting TDs who have decided not to run in the election.
"Having laboured extensively over this very difficult decision, I can honestly say that I now feel somewhat relieved." Ms Wallace said.
"While I can look back over 30 years of public service with great pride, I am also really looking forward to new challenges and to opening a new chapter in my life."
She thanked her supporters, saying: "We can be proud of what we achieved together. This is a great community and a great country and I look forward to the future with optimism and confidence."
Taoiseach Brian Cowen paid tribute to Ms Wallace, describing her as a “very hard-working and productive representative” for the people of Meath. “Throughout her time in Leinster House she has been a popular and respected colleague and I want to thank her today for the courtesy and friendship she has always shown me,” he said.
Thomas Byrne, Fianna Fáil’s other Meath East TD, said Ms Wallace has been a fixture in Meath politics almost since before he started primary school. “She has worked very hard over the years for the people and this is evidenced by her electoral performances over many elections. I wish her and her family the best of luck and happiness."
Chairman of Fianna Fáil's Dunshaughlin branch Billy Cleary said he was "deeply saddened" at the development.
"After 30 years in public office as a councillor, a senator, a minister of state for three portfolios and TD for Meath East, Mary Wallace has decided not to contest the forthcoming general election. I know this was a very difficult decision for Mary and was only taken after careful consideration and deliberation with close friends and family," the statement said.
He said the TD's reasons for not standing "did not include the campaign challenges ahead - challenges that I know she relished".
Ms Wallace was first elected to the Dáil in 1989. She served as a senator from 1987 to 1989 and was a member of Meath County Council from 1982 to 1997.
Other TDs who announced their retirement in recent days include former minister for education, agriculture and health Dr Michael Woods, Minister for Defence Tony Killeen and Minister of State for Housing Michael Finneran.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey have also announced their decision to retire.
Minister of State Conor Lenihan has warned Fianna Fáil “could be obliterated” in the general election, arguing that senior TDs should not retire but contest “to keep the party intact”.