Minister of State John Halligan has confirmed he is not running again for election and will retire from politics.
The Waterford TD made the announcement after heightened speculation about his future ahead of next month's general election.
His Independent Alliance colleague Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, told media on Tuesday that Mr Halligan (64) would not be standing again while discussing the future of the group. He had been considering his future for some time and is understood to be retiring for personal reasons.
In a statement, he said: “Having given over thirty years of my life to politics, I now feel the time is right to start a new chapter and devote more time to my family - my wife, children and grandchildren - all of whom have been an unfailing support to me.
“It has truly been a profound honour to represent the people of Waterford at both local and national level throughout my career. I have served every single day in public office fighting for what I believed was right and working with determination on behalf of my constituents.”
Mr Halligan was first elected to the Dáil in 2011 and was returned in 2016 as a member of the Independent Alliance grouping. He became Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development in the Fine Gael-led coalition formed subsequent to the vote and said it had been his “privilege to work alongside Ireland’s leading scientists and researchers” as part of the role.
Mayor of Waterford
Before the Dáil, Mr Halligan was a member of Waterford City Council having been elected in 1999 for the Workers Party. He left the party in 2008 and was elected Mayor of Waterford a year later.
Concluding his statement, he thanked his staff and people in Waterford who had “put their faith in me for these past three decades”.
“Together we have experienced many highs and lows down through the years. We have endured trying times as a city and county but have held fast in the spirit of community and emerged stronger for it. It is heartening for me to step aside at a time of regeneration, growth and renewed optimism in Waterford.”
It is understood Mr Halligan's brother, Brendan, is to clarify whether he will run for election in Waterford later this week. He currently serves as the chief executive of Children's Group Link, which works with disadvantaged young people. The registered charity was founded by his sister Mary and marked its 40th anniversary last year.
John Halligan’s withdrawal from the Waterford constituency means Mr Ross is the sole remaining member of the Alliance. Minister of State Finian McGrath also announced his retirement this week while Minister of State Kevin “Boxer” Moran has resigned from the group.