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Michael Woods joins Fianna Fáil's retiring ranks

The Dublin North East TD – in office since 1977, and a minister for 16 years – will not contest the general election.

Michael Woods, pictured with granddaughter Mia (3), after winning his tenth consecutive term in Dáil Éireann in 2007.
Michael Woods, pictured with granddaughter Mia (3), after winning his tenth consecutive term in Dáil Éireann in 2007.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive

FIANNA FÁIL former minister Michael Woods has this evening joined the growing ranks of government TDs who say they will not be seeking re-election in the General Election later this year.

Woods (75) has been a TD for Dublin North East since 1981, and represented the preceding Dublin Clontarf constituency for the four years previously. He was elected at his first attempt in 1977, and at each one of the nine subsequent elections.

In a statement released this evening, Woods thanked his wife Margot and their five children and grandchildren, saying he had been “privileged” to have served as a government TD under five Taoisigh – Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern, Albert Reynolds, Charles Haughey and Jack Lynch.

Cowen has led tributes to Woods, who he said was “extremely generous with his time and advice to me as a young man starting off in politics.”

“I have always admired greatly the way Michael has continued to show a big interest in encouraging new members of our parliamentary party and sharing with them the benefit of his immense experience,” Cowen said.

Woods was appointed to the cabinet by Charles Haughey upon the retirement of Lynch in 1979, being appointed Minister for Health and Social Welfare until 1981, and being returned to that brief during Haughey’s short-lived government of 1982.

In 1987 he was again given the Social Welfare brief, being transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Food in 1991. In 1992 he was made Minister for the Marine, before once again returning to Social Welfare in 1993.

After Bertie Ahern’s first election victory in 1997, Woods was once again appointed Minister for Marine and Natural Resources, before finishing his ministerial tenure with a two-year stint at the Department of Education and Science. He was not retained in the cabinet following the 2002 general election, but was instead made Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Woods becomes the 23rd incumbent TD – and the fifteenth from Fianna Fáil – to officially declare themselves out of the running for election next time around, with voting likely to take place on March 25.

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Gavan Reilly

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