Pat Rabbitte to bow out of politics at next election
Former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has announced his decision not to contest the upcoming general election.
Mr Rabbitte told his local constituency branch in Dublin South West that he has opted not to defend his Dáil seat.
Senior party figures last night said they were not surprised at Mr Rabbitte's decision, which was made almost a year after he was sacked from Cabinet.
Tánaiste Joan Burton dropped Mr Rabbitte as Communications Minister in a move he said was taken based on "age and chemistry".
But in a statement last night, Ms Burton paid tribute to her party colleague whom she described as a "major figure on the Irish political scene".
"While Pat has had a significant national profile, he has always worked hard for the entire community in Dublin South West. I know that amidst a lengthy political career, one of his proudest achievements was his involvement in the first National Drugs Strategy during the Rainbow Government, in an effort to address the drugs scourge in Dublin. He will also be long remembered for the forensic and painstaking work he did as a member of the DIRT Inquiry," Ms Burton said.
"Pat's wit and insight are unique and I am sure that, while he is exiting politics, he will not be lost to Irish public life. There is no doubt that Pat has been one of the truly outstanding parliamentarians of his generation," she added.
Mr Rabbitte is known to have agonised over whether to run in the next general election in recent months but finally declared his intentions last night. He is leaving politics after more than 25 years in office.
Labour's other sitting TD in Dublin South West is Eamonn Maloney.
Mr Rabbitte follows former Labour ministers Eamon Gilmore and Ruairí Quinn in deciding to step down at the next election.
In her statement, Ms Burton said: "I was proud when Pat appointed me to serve as Labour Party spokesperson on finance, and later to serve with him in Government where we worked together to put the country on the road to economic recovery."