As Ireland gears up for the upcoming general election next year, a number of TDs (Teachta Dála, or members of the Irish parliament) have announced that they will not be contesting the next general election. The latest to make this announcement is former Fianna Fáil TD and current Independent TD for Sligo, Marc MacSharry, who made his intentions known on Wednesday. MacSharry expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve as a TD and senator for over 21 years and thanked everyone for their support and assistance.
MacSharry had resigned from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party whip last year in the lead-up to a vote of confidence in then foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney regarding Katherine Zappone’s UN special envoy appointment.
In addition to MacSharry, there are several other TDs who have also announced that they will not be seeking re-election. This includes a number of former Cabinet ministers from the Fine Gael party. Richard Bruton and Charlie Flanagan, both senior representatives of Fine Gael, have decided to step away from politics. Bruton, who has served as a minister in various government departments, made his decision in September. Meanwhile, Flanagan, a former justice minister, stated that it is time to pass the baton to a younger generation.
Kerry TD Brendan Griffin had already announced in January that he would not be seeking a nomination for the next election. In a letter to party members and councillors, Griffin explained that his decision was driven by his desire to spend more time with his young sons during their remaining childhood years. Similarly, Joe McHugh, a TD from Donegal and former education minister, has also decided to step away from politics in order to prioritize spending more time with his family.
John Paul Phelan, a former Minister for State and TD for Carlow Kilkenny, has also made the decision to step down. It was reported in April by the Irish Examiner that health issues were the reason behind his decision. Phelan reportedly informed his constituency AGM that he never fully recovered from a heart attack and that his energy levels remain consistently low. Cork TDs Michael Creed and David Stanton have also decided not to stand in the next election.
Moving on to the Labour party, Brendan Howlin, former leader of the party, announced that he will not be contesting the next general election. Howlin, who has represented Wexford for nine consecutive Dáileanna (plural of Dáil, the lower house of the Irish parliament), described representing Wexford as the privilege of his life.
Seán Sherlock, a TD from Cork East, has also made the difficult decision not to run in the next general election due to boundary changes. Sherlock admitted that the impact of the changes made by the Electoral Commission in August influenced his decision to step away from political life. The redraw of the constituencies resulted in Sherlock’s home base of Mallow being moved from Cork-East into Cork North-Central.
In addition to the aforementioned TDs, Bríd Smith of the People Before Profit party announced in July that she would be stepping down. Smith expressed her desire to make room for the next generation of young working-class people. Denis Naughten, a former communications minister and Independent TD for Roscommon Galway, is also stepping down for personal and professional reasons. Naughten, who was originally elected in 1997 and had previously served in Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate), did not provide further details regarding his decision.
As the general election approaches, these announcements of TDs stepping down will undoubtedly shape the political landscape and pave the way for new faces and voices in Irish politics.