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Enda Kenny praises 'extraordinary' Noonan as he announces plan to step down

The Finance Minister says he will not be seeking re-election to the Dáil.

Update 9.45pm

MICHAEL NOONAN HAS announced that he does not want to carry on as Finance Minister when a successor to Enda Kenny is appointed.

2118 Central Bank_90509716 Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

The minister also added that he will retire at the next general election. In a statement released this afternoon, Noonan said:

Following the Taoiseach’s announcement yesterday, I want to state that I do not wish to be considered for Cabinet by his successor, whoever that may be.

Noonan said that he will continue to carry out his duties as Minister for Finance until a successor is appointed but that he will not be seeking re-election to the Dáil at the next general election.

He said: “It has been a privilege to represent the people of Limerick since I was first elected in 1981 and I look forward to continuing to do so until an election is called.

“I have been honoured to serve as Minister for Finance since March 2011 and have introduced six annual budgets and one supplementary budget.

“I believe now is a good time for a new Finance Minister to take up office. Ireland is the fastest growing economy in Europe, the budget is almost balanced and we are on the cusp of full employment.”

Kenny paid tribute to Noonan this evening, saying his contribution to the restoration of the Irish economy has been “extraordinary”.

“His taxation measure proved to be fair, balanced and among the most progressive in Europe. He brought stability and confidence to Irish proposals at ECOFIN (the EU’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council). This assisted greatly with my own engagement with EU leaders at Council level.

I respect his decision completely and the people of Limerick and the Mid-West understand fully the transformative influence of his years as Minister for Finance.

“Above all else, Michael remains a close personal friend of mine.”

‘A formidable politician and parliamentarian’

Earlier, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, who has thrown his hat into the Fine Gael leadership competition, said he wanted to express his thanks to Noonan his “extraordinary contribution to public life”.

Irish general election PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

“I think Michael Noonan has played probably the most significant role in rebuilding our economy from the very, very broken state that Michael Noonan found it in when he became Minister for Finance.

He has been an extraordinary leader within government, he has been a voice of calm, of intelligent commentary, a really steady hand through a very difficult period.
When there was tension between Fine Gael and the Labour party in particular in the last government Michael Noonan normally was the one who found a middle ground to move forward on.

“I consider him a friend of mine, he’s someone I have learned a huge amount about politics and about life from and I hope to work with him in the future,” he added.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said Noonan had been a ”formidable politician and parliamentarian”.

As someone who has marked Minister Michael Noonan across the floor of the Dáil for the past six years, I would like to acknowledge the significant role he has played in public life, and of course, in managing the Irish economy.

“Of course, there have been many occasions where Minister Noonan and I disagreed on policy, but throughout every one of those disagreements, I have no doubt that he was motivated by a desire to always act in the national interest.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy, Christina Finn and Órla Ryan

Read: Frances Fitzgerald will NOT be contesting the Fine Gael leadership>

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