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Olivia Mitchell in tears after emotional farewell to the Dáil

The Fine Gael TD is retiring at the next election.

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FINE GAEL TD Olivia Mitchell bid an emotional farewell to the Dáil today as she made what is likely to be her final speech in the chamber before retiring.

The long-serving Dublin South TD is stepping down at the next election, which is expected to take place next month.

While insisting she had no indication of when the election will take place, Mitchell said she believed this would be her final opportunity to speak in the Dáil as she will be in Strasbourg next week attending a Council of Europe meeting.

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Thanking her constituents for electing her to the Dáil in every election since 1997, Mitchell said:

I just want to say to them that there hasn’t been a single day that I’ve been in here that I haven’t been conscious of what a really great, incomparable privilege and honour it is to represent them here in our national parliament.

As she became visibly emotional, Mitchell concluded:

I want to wish all my colleagues the very best. I know that none of them, apart from the Ceann Comhairle probably, don’t know for sure what they’ll be doing in a month’s time, so I wish them all the very best.

The Dáil broke into spontaneous applause after Mitchell resumed her seat.

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A tearful Mitchell was being consoled and congratulated by colleagues after she left the chamber a short time later.

‘Dreadful experience’

Mitchell, an economist by profession, announced her retirement from politics last August.

She served for several years as a Fine Gael frontbench spokesperson but was demoted in the reshuffle that followed the botched heave against Enda Kenny in 2010, which Mitchell had supported.

She was not appointed to any ministerial posting after Fine Gael went into government in 2011. Some in the party believe this was punishment for her disloyalty to Kenny.

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In an interview with TheJournal.ie last year, Mitchell described the attempted heave as a “dreadful experience” but said she had made her peace with what had transpired:

Would I have been in cabinet? Probably, but that’s life. I’ve made my peace with it, and I’ve made my peace with Enda.

Fine Gael hopes that first-time councillor Josepha Madigan can retain Mitchell’s seat in the new three-seat Dublin Rathdown constituency. Former justice minister Alan Shatter is also seeking re-election.

Read: Three of the Taoiseach’s staff are paid more than the €96k salary cap

‘Zero, zilch, nothing’: Enda’s withering smackdown got the Dáil all rowdy

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Hugh O'Connell

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