Marian Harkin (65), the Independent MEP for Midlands, North & West, has announced she will not be a candidate in the European Parliament elections next month.
Firts elected to the European Parliament election in 2004 she is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE). She was returned in 2009 and 2014.
Originally from Ballintogher, Co Sligo, she was elected to the Dáil as an independent TD for the Sligo–Leitrim constituency at the 2002 general election but stood down in 2007 to concentrate on her work at the European Parliament.
“I love my work in the European Parliament. It is the most interesting place in the whole wide world,” she told RTE Radio’s News at One.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve for the last 15 years. It was a privilege and a responsibility I took very seriously.
“At one level I am heartbroken. I don’t know what I will do next.”
When asked if she would consider running for the Dáil in the next general election, Ms Harkin said she has been so busy she has not had time to reflect on what she will do next.
“I’m not opening a door today. I am closing it, not locking it. Today is about finishing in the European Parliament. The future is for another day, for another time.”
She said she was concerned about the rise in anti-European sentiment. “Europe is about building things together. If we can’t do that in the European Parliament, it could grind to a halt, it could become very political.”
In a statement earlier in response to media enquiries, she said she had decided not to seek re-election on May 24th next. "While I still have a real passion for politics and a firm bef that, with its plusses and minuses, the EU is a vital force for good in the world and a place where Ireland, as a small nation, can stand on its own two feet but, at the same time, benefit from the strength of 28 member states working together, I have decided not to seek re-election to the European Parliament."
She had “the privilege of serving the people of the Midlands, North & West constituency for three terms and I believe I have made my contribution in the most positive way I could.
“I came into politics from the voluntary sector, first as a TD representing Sligo-Leitrim and subsequently as an MEP. During that time I have worked to represent ordinary people, community groups, workers, farmers, credit unions, carers, people with disabilities and many others.
“One of my objectives has always been to act as a bridge between Irish citizens and the European institutions particularly in regard to access and, of course, representation.
“Bringing Europe closer to the citizen has never been just a slogan for me, it has been an essential part of my work. Most people do not have a full understanding of what MEPs’ are engaged in but they trust their MEPs to represent their interests at all the different levels in the European institutions.
“I have always valued that trust and I want to thank all those in the 15 counties I am proud to represent for placing that trust in me. Politics is important, without good politics, society faces uncertainty, insecurity and confusion and all that flows from that”, she said