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Time to say goodbye

Denis Naughten says he is leaving politics to try his hand at 'something different'

The TD said that he doesn’t have a new gig lined up.

INDEPENDENT TD DENIS Naughten has said he feels it time to “try my hand at something different”, following his announcement that he will resign from the Dáil before the next election.

The Roscommon–Galway TD revealed last night that he will not stand in the constituency the next time out, with a general election due to be held no later than 2025. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, also Naughten said that he doesn’t have a new job lined up after he leaves politics, but that he would like to work at “building stronger relationships” between scientists and politicians in the future. 

Naughten has been an Independent TD for the Roscommon-Galway constituency since 2016. From 2007 to 2016 he was TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim, and from 1997 to 2007 he was a TD for the Longford-Roscommon constituency. 

In a statement released yesterday Naughten said that he had decided for “both personal and professional reasons, after giving 26 years of my life to national politics that now is the time to step back and explore new opportunities.” 

He was previously with Fine Gael, but he left the party in 2011 after he lost the party whip for voting against Fine Gael’s motions on cuts to emergency services at Roscommon Hospital. 

Asked whether his stance on the cuts made a difference on radio this morning, Naughten said: “We had a situation where politicians say one thing at an election and do a different thing soon afterwards. In this case, there was a clear written commitment from the incoming Minister for Health.” 

“In all honesty, I couldn’t stand by a situation where you had the three most senior people in the country giving a commitment in relation to a hospital and then turning their back on it,” he added. 

Naughten served as Minister for Communications following the 2016 general election, but he ultimately resigned from the post following controversy surrounding a series of meetings he had with the lead bidder of Ireland’s national broadband plan. 

At the time Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Naughten had left himself open to the perception of a conflict of interest. 

Asked if he regrets his meetings with David McCourt several years on, Naughten said that “in hindsight, you would naturally do things differently”. 

“At the time I was more than committed to getting this project over the line. There was a single bidder left in the process

“The other two bidders had pulled out of it. I knew that if this collapsed we would never see fiber optic cable in rural Ireland.

“The reality is there was huge vested interest against making this happen. And it is happening and it will be delivered and it will transform our society and our economy, just like rural electrification did such a long time ago.”

Naughten said that there will “always be challenges” in a rural constituency such as his, but that he believes that broadband access will level out “access to services’ across the country.

He added that he believes that the urban regeneration fund and the rural regeneration fund will ‘transform many of our towns and villages”. 

He also said that he believes that the “new scheme to refurbish vacant properties will have a transformative effect”. 

Reflecting on what has changed in politics since he started out in 1997, Naughten said that he thinks social media has helped politicians to be able to communicate more effectively with the electorate, but that it has also brought “huge challenges as well”. 

“That’s why as Communications Minister, I was such a strong advocate for a digital Safety Commissioner, which at long last, is now in place,” he added. 

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