SINN Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald has expressed confidence the party will retain the Dáil seat that will be vacated by Jonathan O’Brien in the next general election.
The Cork North-Central representative announced this week that he was standing down after nine years as a TD.
City councillor Thomas Gould is now expected to contest the election for Sinn Féin after stunning Fine Gael by finishing ahead of Senator Colm Burke as runner-up to Fianna Fáil’s Padraig O’Sullivan in November’s North-Central Dáil by-election.
Mr O'Brien was in a strong position to retain his seat for the party in the next general election.
Ms McDonald believes the party will not let the seat slip: "Given that Sinn Féin recorded our best ever result in the Cork North Central constituency in November's by-elections, I have every confidence that we will retain this seat in the next General Election when it comes."
Ms McDonald also paid tribute to Mr O’Brien’s work over a 20-year period as a Cork city councillor and TD.
"I want to sincerely thank Jonathan for the massive contribution he has made to Sinn Féin locally and nationally, and for his twenty years service in public office.
"Jonathan has served his constituents and Sinn Féin with distinction as a member of Cork City Council for 11 years and for 9 years in the Dáil.
"During that time he has earned a reputation as one of the strongest and most genuine voices in Irish politics.
"Someone of Jonathan's talent and calibre will undoubtedly be missed as a public representative, but I know that Jonathan will remain a proud and committed member of Sinn Féin and will work to retain the Sinn Féin seat in Cork North Central and contribute to the party in other ways into the future.
“Jonathan has given a firm commitment that he will continue to serve the people of his constituency to the best of his ability until the next General Election and I have no doubt that he will do that over the coming period,” Ms McDonald added.
Likely Sinn Fáin candidate in the general election Thomas Gould tweeted: “All the best Jonathan, 20 years as a public rep & years more as an activist. Well done for all your hard work & commitment to our community & our City.”
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle described Mr O’Brien as a “very effective TD”.
“Want to wish Jonathan O'Brien well in his decision not to contest the next general election. He has been a very effective TD. Hope he stays involved in informing public debate, especially with his commitment to Cork City FC in demanding proper governance of football in Ireland.”