Brian Hayes to leave politics to take up banking industry role

Speculation about replacements as Fine Gael MEP says he will not seek to retain his seat

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes has announced that he will not contest the European Parliament elections next May and will instead take up a new role with a banking industry group.

Mr Hayes resigned as a minister of state and TD after being elected to the European Parliament for the Dublin constituency in 2014. He will continue as an MEP until next year’s local and European elections and then take up a job as chief executive of the Irish Banking and Payments Federation.

The announcement prompted a flurry of speculation in Fine Gael circles about a possible successor. With the Dublin constituency expanding from a three to a four-seater at next year’s elections, Fine Gael winning a seat in the capital is viewed as being almost a certainty.

Names touted in Leinster House as possible replacements included the former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, and senators Catherine Noone and Neale Richmond. However, all three have already been selected to run for the party in the next general election. Another name doing the rounds was that of former Fine Gael TD and minister Lucinda Creighton.



Ms Creighton was expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party after opposing abortion legislation in 2013 and later went on to found Renua Ireland. She lost her seat at the general election in 2016 and now works as a public affairs consultant. She said she did not wish to comment on the matter.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who the MEP informed of his decision on Monday, said he was sorry that Mr Hayes was leaving politics. "He's made a massive contribution to Fine Gael, Dublin and Ireland for more than 25 years," he said in a tweet.

Mr Hayes, who had moved his young family to Brussels when he became an MEP, moved back to Dublin this summer prompting some in Fine Gael to believe that he might run again for the Dáil at the next general election.

However, the move was a prelude to his final decision to leave politics, which he said was made for “for family and professional reasons.”

He said his children were at an age where he felt he should be at home.

“There is life after politics,” he said.

Mr Hayes said he was making the announcement now, six months ahead of the European elections, to be completely transparent.

“I am absolutely clear that there is no conflict of interest,” he said.

Mr Hayes said one of the challenges facing him in his new role will be the reputational problem that the banking sector has following the financial crisis.