TD Olivia Mitchell is stepping down ahead of next General Election: 'I'm passing on mantle to younger generation'
Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell has written to party members this morning announcing her decision to step down ahead of the General Election.
"I believe now is the right time for me to pass the mantle to a new generation," Ms Mitchell said in the letter, seen by Independent.ie.
"While this was a difficult decision for me to make, I am consoled by the knowledge that we have in the constituency a number of excellent potential candidates who are more than qualified to retain the seat for Fine Gael," she added.
In a statement issued today, Ms Mitchell wrote:
“After a long and difficult period of reflection, I have decided that I will not contest the upcoming Fine Gael selection convention for the Dublin Rathdown constituency.
“After thirty years as a public representative, including eighteen consecutive years in the Dáil, and as Dublin South disappears to be replaced by the new Dublin Rathdown constituency, I believe that now is the right time for me to pass the mantle to a new generation.
“It has been an incomparable honour and privilege to represent the people of Dublin South at both national and local level. I am indebted to all those who voted for me through the years and for the tremendous support given to me by the Fine Gael members in the constituency," she continued.
“I am extremely grateful to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD, and to former Fine Gael leaders for the opportunity to play a role at national level, as Party Spokesperson on Housing, Dublin Traffic, Environment, Health, Transport, Arts Sports and Tourism, and currently as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and of the Council of Europe.
“In leaving national politics, I am consoled in knowing that under the current Government, our country’s fortunes are being turned around as more and more people return to work. I will of course continue working to represent the people of Dublin South and to secure the national recovery right up to the dissolution of the 31st Dáil.”
Ms Mitchell's decision has surprised party members and created a dilemma for headquarters over the approach towards candidate selection.
Party sources fear the other sitting TD, former justice minister Alan Shatter, will be defeated at convention.
Prominent councillors Neale Richmond, Josepha Madigan and Barry Saul are all expected to run.
In a statement today, Ms Madigan said:
“Olivia has been a tremendous representative for her constituents for almost 20 years. She has also been a role model for women looking to enter politics, including myself.
“She has been very influential in my political career, giving me invaluable advice and support during my successful council election campaign last year.
“I hope to continue her good work and if selected to contest the general election for Fine Gael, I know that I can count on her support.”