Fine Gael TD won't contest election
Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh will not contest the upcoming General Election because of medical advice.
Mr Walsh (43), who is a deputy for Galway West, has been experiencing health problems for some time and has been hospitalised twice recently.
"Thankfully, I'm currently on the mend but, unfortunately, my condition is liable to relapse or worsen unless considerable changes are made to my lifestyle," he said.
There had been speculation recently about whether Mr Walsh would run.
In a statement last night, he said: "I have done everything possible to resist making this decision and had hoped to overcome my condition in order to be able to continue.
"But in recent days, it has become clear that I have no choice but to accede to medical advice and withdraw my candidacy in the forthcoming General Election."
His decision clears the way for his Fine Gael colleague and sitting Mayo TD John O'Mahony, who has switched to Galway West for the election.
Mr Walsh was elected to the Dáil for the first time in 2011 and lost the Fine Gael whip in 2013 after voting against the Government's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
However, unlike most other TDs who took that decision, he decided to bide his time and was re-admitted to the parliamentary party in April 2014.
"I have been involved in politics and Fine Gael since I was 10 years old and I have been honoured to serve as a public representative for the past 11 years," he said in his statement.
"It is particularly difficult in light of two recent opinion polls that suggest, as I have always believed, that we will return to government after the next election and will retain two seats in Galway West.
"While it is with sadness that I must step back from this role, I take solace from the fact this will enable me to spend more time with my family, which has been a scarce and precious commodity in the face of competing demands in political life."
He thanked his family and the people of Galway West.