Fine Gael TD and former education minister Joe McHugh has announced he will not contest the next general election.
The Donegal TD served as a minister of state for a number of departments between 2014 and 2017 and was government chief whip from 2017 to 2018 before becoming education minister in October 2018.
He did not feature in Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar’s team in the current coalition government and in a statement said that the last two years have given him a chance to assess his work and family life.
“The last two years have given us all some time for reflection, and it is after a significant period of reflection and following much consideration, I have decided I will not be seeking a nomination to stand in the next general election,” he said.
“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. 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.”
Mr McHugh said he will continue to give his “full commitment” to his role as a public representative during the current Dáil.
“I can assure you that I will work as hard as ever for the remainder of this Dáil serving my constituents and this county,” he said.
“I am making my intentions clear now, well in advance of the next general election, to give the Fine Gael organisation and potential candidates the time to establish themselves and campaign to ensure Fine Gael will retain a seat in Donegal.”
In a statement following the news, Mr Varadkar thanked Mr McHugh “for his work for successive governments, for Ireland, for Fine Gael and for his constituents.”
“I am very sorry to hear that Joe will not be contesting the next general election but having discussed it with him, I understand his reasons,” he said.
“Deputy McHugh and I were elected to Dáil Éireann at the same time in 2007, both regaining seats for the Fine Gael party. We’ve served together on the Fine Gael front bench in opposition and as ministers in government.
“It was an honour as taoiseach to appoint him to the office of chief whip & minister for the gaeltacht and subsequently as minister for education. Joe is one of the most compassionate and kindest people in a profession that is often far from kind.
“By making his plans known early, the party will be able to put in place a succession plan to ensure that we hold our seat in the Donegal constituency. We will select a candidate next year once the Boundary Commission has reported.”