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TDs from Fine Gael who will not run again in the next election.
and then there were 13

Can't keep up with the Fine Gael departures? Here's a round up of who is standing down

We’re up to 13 Fine Gael TDs so far – just over one-third of the party’s TDs.

THIRTEEN FINE GAEL TDs have now announced that they will not be contesting the next general election – just over one-third of the party’s 33 TDs. 

Leo Varadkar, who stepped down as Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader in March, yesterday announced that he will not be standing in the upcoming election.

There have been suggestions that others may yet follow their 13 party colleagues before the next general election, which has to take place before March of next year. 

The latest exit raises questions about how the departures reflects on the party’s ability to contest the next election with such a large number of exits, although Simon’s Harris’s promotion to Taoiseach does appear to have re-energised the party.

Some of those leaving Fine Gael told The Journal last year that they disagreed that the numbers leaving is a reflection on the party leader, while Varadkar said in the past that there are multiple reasons why someone may choose not to run for re-election, and that it is “normal” within any political party. 

Here’s a list of all of the other TDs who have said they won’t be running again so far:

22  Education Briefing_90598639 Joe McHugh. Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

1. In May 2022, Joe McHugh became the first Fine Gael TD to announce that he would not be contesting the next general election.

The Donegal representative said he made the decision to stand down in order to spend more time with his family. 

“The reason for this is a simple one. I have three children and, as they grow older, I want to be around more and available to them,” he said. 

“Politics is a 24/7 job that demands absolute commitment. I have given politics everything I could throughout my career and it has been my greatest honour to serve as a TD representing the people of Donegal in Dáil Éireann.”

9827 Griffin_90582201 Brendan Griffin. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

2. Kerry TD Brendan Griffin confirmed in January 2023 that he would not be standing in the next election.

Griffin, who was elected in 2011, said that family reasons had played a part in his decision to step away from politics. 

“The reason for my decision is very straightforward, I want to be around my children for the remaining years of their childhood,” he told Radio Kerry.

He also said that he never envisaged having a long career in politics, adding: “I wanted to give it everything I could while I could, and the minute I felt that I couldn’t give it 100% commitment, I would step back.”

13  Gov Briefing COV-19_90595996 John Paul Phelan. Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

3. In April last year, Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan announced that he would not be standing at the next general election. 

The 45-year-old, who was first elected in 2011, cited his health as the main reason for standing down. He had a heart attack during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Once I regained consciousness that day, a doctor asked about my work, lifestyle and the need to remove stress from my life and change how I lived. When I told him my job we both laughed,” he told KCLR radio. 

“In reality that prognosis has not changed. As a result I have decided not to seek the Fine Gael nomination to contest the next General Election.”

minister-for-agriculture-food-and-the-marine-michael-creed-t-d Michael Creed. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

4. Cork North West TD and former Agriculture Minister Michael Creed also announced that he would not be contesting the next election in April 2023.  

The 60-year-old was first elected to the Dáil in 1989 and held his seat until 2002, when he lost out to his Fine Gael running mate Gerard Murphy. He was re-elected in 2007. 

In a statement announcing that he would not be seeking re-election, he said: “Politics by its nature requires renewal and it’s time for me to move on.”

He also told The Journal at the Fine Gael think-in last year that he hasn’t really thought about his retirement, stating that he is focused on the job “until the curtain drops”. 

“I just felt it was the right time for me personally, but everybody has their own different circumstances that impact on their own decision making, but I’m quite happy with my own decision.”

Gambling 957_90570908 David Stanton. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

5. Fine Gael TD for Cork East David Stanton announced that he would not seek re-election in May last year after more than 25 years in office. 

Stanton said that it had been “the utmost privilege of mine” to represent his constituents since he was first elected to the Dáil in 1997 and that he would continue to work for them in the same manner until the next election.

Speaking to The Journal at the Fine Gael think-in last September, Stanton said: “You have to be realistic, you can’t keep going this way into you 70s.”

4269 FG General Election_90589476 Richard Bruton. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

6. In September last year, Dublin Bay North TD Richard Bruton declared his intention to retire at the next election. 

The 70-year-old’s career in politics has spanned 41 years, having first been elected to the Dáil in 1982. 

Announcing his decision to stand down, Bruton thanked voters and those who had helped him throughout his career, adding: “This is the right time, as new constituencies are forming, to give others the chance to take on the role.”

0517 Cabinet Meetings_90601646 Charlie Flanagan. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

7. That same month, former Minister for Justice and Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan announced that he would stand down at the next general election. 

First elected to the Dáil in 1987, the Laois-Offaly TD said it was the right time to step away from politics. 

“It is now 36 years since I was first elected to Dail Eireann. Between my father Oliver J and myself that’s 80 years of public service and 23 General Elections. In my view now it’s time to pass the baton to a younger generation,” he said. 

td-fergus-odowd-speaking-at-the-british-irish-parliamentary-assembly-58th-plenary-session-at-druids-glen-hotel-in-co-wicklow-as-land-at-dublin-airport-has-been-allocated-to-cater-for-the-potential Fergus O'Dowd. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

8. In November last year, Fergus O’Dowd announced that he would be retiring at the next general election. 

O’Dowd, who served in the Louth and East Meath constituency, has been a public representative for 50 years.

The 75-year-old said that it had been “an honour and a privilege” to represent the people of his constituency for that length of time, and that he intends to continue to be a “strong and forceful advocate for improved care and supports for older people”.

paul-kehoe-minister-of-state-at-the-department-of-the-taoiseach-and-the-department-of-defence-with-special-responsibility-for-defence-arrives-for-the-arbour-hill-1916-leaders-commemoration-ceremony Paul Kehoe. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

9. Wexford TD Paul Kehoe announced in February 2024 that he would not contest the next election.  

The 51-year-old told supporters at the Wexford Fine Gael Constituency AGM that while it had been a difficult decision to make, he felt that “now is the right time for me and my family”. 

Speaking at the time of Kehoe’s announcement about the number of Fine Gael TDs deciding not to stand in the next election, Minister for Public Expeniture Paschal Donohoe said he believes “it’s a reflection of the fact that we have had a large group of TDs who’ve been in politics for some time, who contested many, many, many elections”.

“They’re all reaching a point, as everybody can do in their career, regarding what else they want to do with their own personal lives and career,” he said. 

90328273_90328273 Ciaran Cannon

10. Former junior minister and TD for Galway East Ciaran Cannon said this week that he was ending his career in politics and would not contest the next genearl election. 

He cited a “coarseness” and “toxicity” in politics in his decision not to run again. 

Cannon was briefly leader of the Progressive Democrats before joining Fine Gael in 2009 and was elected as a TD for the party in 2011. He served as Minister for State within both the Departments of Education and Foreign Affairs. 

In his statement, Cannon said that after 20 years in politics, he has begun to “reach a point where you’ve given all you can give”.

250Josepha Madigan Special_90695611 (1) Josepha Madigan Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

 11. Just two days after her party leader’s shock resignation as Taoiseach, Josepha Madigan unexpectedly resigned as a Junior Minister and said she would not be contesting the next general election. 

Madigan had been a Fine Gael representative – first as a councillor and then as a TD – for almost ten years. 

She was Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht between 2017 and 2020. In a statement, she said representing people has been an “enormous honour”. 

Madigan did not give any reason for her departure. 

simon-coveney-foreign-affairs-minister-for-ireland-speaks-at-csis Simon Coveney Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

12. Rumours about it happening had swirled for some time and on 10 July, Simon Coveney made it official: he would not be contesting the next general election and was stepping away from politics after 26 years in office. 

He was first elected to the Dáil at the age of 25 in 1998, in a by-election following the death of his father Hugh Coveney. He briefly left the Dáil for three years to serve as an MEP between 2004 and 2007. 

He held a number of roles in Cabinet since 2011, most notably Minister for Foreign Affairs during the critical Brexit negotations between 2017 and 2022. He also held the positions of Minister for Defence, Minister for Housing, and Minister for Agriculture. 

In his goodbye statement, the Fine Gael TD thanked party members in his constituency, saying: “Being elected for 26 years has been the privilege of my life. I will forever be grateful for the faith people in Cork South Central have put in me.” 

taoiseach-leo-varadkar-speaking-at-the-official-opening-of-a-new-wing-at-the-mater-hospital-dublin-picture-date-thursday-april-20-2023 Leo Varadkar. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

13. When Leo Varadkar resigned as Taoiseach in March, many believed that it was only a matter of time before he announced his retirement from politics.

On 16 July, the Dublin West TD confirmed that he would not stand in the next election, describing his decision as both “personal and political”.

He added that the “time has come to explore new options and opportunities” and that he never viewed himself as a “career politician”.

Varadkar has been an elected representative for over two decades and was first elected to represent the Castleknock/Blanchardstown area on Fingal County Council.

He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 2007  and held several Cabinet positions during his career, including Minister for Transport, Minister for Health, Minister for Social Protection and Minister for Enterprise.

He became Taoiseach for the first time in 2017, and began a second term in 2022. He also served as Tánaiste from 2020 to 2022.

Additional reporting by Eimer McAuley and Christine Bohan 

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