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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Sasko Lazarov via
Fine Gael

Fine Gael departures 'natural turnover' of TDs before next election, says Varadkar

Five sitting Fine Gael TDs have said they will not contest the next election.

LEO VARADKAR HAS said he does not take responsibility for the influx in Fine Gael TDs announcing their retirement from politics, instead categorising their departures as a “natural turnover of people” before the next general election.

The Taoiseach also maintains that support for his party is “at or above” what it was in 2020.

Five sitting Fine Gael TDs have said they will not contest the next election.

These include Michael Creed (Cork North West), John Paul Phelan (Carlow/Kilkenny), Brendan Griffin (Kerry) and Joe McHugh (Donegal).

On Virgin Media’s Tonight Show, Varadkar was asked whether he takes any responsibility for their exits.

“No. The reasons they’ve given are valid reasons,” he said.

“In between any election you have a natural turnover of people and, if you take the last election for example, which was a tough election for us, we elected five new TDs and two Senators [that] moved up from the Senate to the Dáil.

“Of those seven, three are now ministers.”

Varadkar said that the changes are indicative of “a party in renewal”.

“In between any electoral cycle you have people who’ve given a lot of time, a lot of commitment to the country, their community, their party and they move on.

The positions may be filled by “ambitious” councillors or senators, “or even anyone from outside the party who wants to be a TD, it’s a really good party to join”.

Varadkar rejected remarks that the bowing out of longtime party members indicates a “malaise” at the heart of Fine Gael.

“We are in government now for nearly 12 years so I suppose it wouldn’t be unfair to say there may be some people who are tired after that period of time. I’m certainly not.”

He says he and his ministers are “absolutely not” jaded.


“Come the next election, our objective is to increase our vote and increase our number of seats,” Varadkar said.

“I believe we can be in the mid-20s, in terms of the vote that we get in the next election.

“That would bring us up to around 45 seats, and if we can achieve that, we’ll be in a position to lead the next government if we’re able to find sufficient coalition partners, as is always the case.

“I absolutely guarantee you I’m up for the challenge, so are the people around me, and if there are people stepping down or stepping back, I understand that. That’s human nature.”

Varadkar pointed out that there were also “plenty of people who retired” before the last election.

“There are people behind them – hungry people – men, women, young, old, willing to take those seats and willing to be ministers in the next government if they get the opportunity,” he said.

“With the exception of one rogue poll a couple weeks ago, our party support is at or above where it was in the last general election.

“By any logical analysis, we’re gaining seats in that scenario, not losing them.

“We will have challenges in some individual constituencies and that’s all about getting the right candidates.”

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