Beverley: I'm quitting politics for the sake of my family
BEVERLEY Flynn last night became the latest Fianna Fail TD to announce that she was quitting politics.
And there are also doubts about whether Transport Minister Noel Dempsey will contest next year's General Election.
Ms Flynn said she had made her decision for family reasons -- she has two young children of school-going age. It is understood she only made her final decision at the weekend.
She said she was committed to working for the organisation and its candidates during the forthcoming campaign.
Deputy Flynn said last night: "I have enjoyed my time in public life and worked hard for those who elected me, but the time has come when I have other priorities in my life.
"My decision was purely for family reasons and I thank all those who have supported me in my decision. So many people had already committed to helping me in the next campaign, but I know they understand the reasons for me opting not to run," she said.
Hers is the latest in a series of announcements by serving Fianna Fail TDs that they will retire, some rather than risk losing their seats at a time when the party is at an all-time low in the opinion polls.
Last night, Transport Minster Noel Dempsey said he would make an announcement about whether he would run in the election "very, very shortly".
Ms Flynn made her announcement at a meeting of Fianna Fail's Comhairle Dail Ceanntar (the umbrella body for the 200 or so Fianna Fail branches in Mayo) in the Welcome Inn hotel, Castlebar.
Fianna Fail councillor Jimmy Maloney said her departure would represent a huge loss for the town of Castlebar, which has been served by a Fianna Fail TD since her father was elected in 1977.
"It'll be very difficult for the party to retain the seat, particularly when Enda Kenny is also running in the town," he said.
Fianna Fail councillor Damian Ryan, one of Ms Flynn's closest allies, described it as a shock announcement. Although there had been rumblings over the past number of weeks, he said he thought it was just political speculation. "It has plunged the party's plans for the election into chaos," he said.
Fine Gael has been heavily targeting Ms Flynn's seat as part of its plan to win four of the five seats in the constituency.
Ms Flynn was expelled from Fianna Fail three times during her turbulent career in the Dail. She lost the High Court and Supreme Court libel actions she took against RTE, which reported on her involvement in the sale of tax-dodging insurance policies as an employee of National Irish Bank. She was elected as an independent TD for Mayo in the 2007 General Election and accepted back into Fianna Fail the following year.
Fianna Fail councillor Al McDonnell, former constituency organiser Denis Gallagher (son of a former minister) and former TD John Carty were all mentioned last night by party sources as possible candidates.
Fine Gael Mayo TD Michael Ring said: "She caught us all by surprise. I wish her and her family the best of luck."
The Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night paid tribute to Ms Flynn. "She has been assiduous in her attention to the needs of her constituents and I know that her many supporters will be sorry to see her leave representative politics," he said.