McDaid to quit politics
Renegade Fianna Fail TD James McDaid is to quit politics, it was confirmed today.
The Donegal representative and GP has resigned his seat after writing to Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan last week.
The TD, who lost the Fianna Fail whip after opposing Government policy on the cervical cancer vaccine for teenage girls, is expected to formerly hand his resignation letter to the Ceann Comhairle in the Dail later today.
Staff at Mr McDaid's constituency office in Letterkenny confirmed that letters had been sent and the doctor had decided to leave politics.
The resignation leaves four empty seats in the Dail with the Government awaiting tomorrow's High Court ruling on whether it should be forced to hold by-elections within a specific period of time.
Mr McDaid, a former minister, was one of the most vocal opponents of the Government's decision to limit the cervical cancer vaccine and abstained for a vote on the programme in 2008.
He threatened to vote against the December Budget unless his local Letterkenny General Hospital was protected from health cuts.
It is understood he will also cite personal reasons for his departure.
Labour's Emmet Stagg said the resignation was another nail in the coffin of a discredited and inept Government.
"It is unprecedented in peacetime to have four vacancies in the Dail and it would be totally unacceptable for the government to refuse to allow them to be filled," Mr Stagg said.
"It is increasingly evident that this government is incapable of giving the leadership necessary to lead the country out of the economic morass and put Ireland on the road to recovery.
"Only the election of a new government with a fresh mandate can do this."
Donegal Sinn Fein councillor Padraig MacLochlainn said: "The Government has left the people of Donegal South West without proper representation for 18 months up to now.
"This must not be allowed to happen again in Donegal North East. Donegal is now short two TDs and any notion that the Donegal South West by-election would be held in isolation cannot now be taken seriously."
In a letter to the Taoiseach, Mr McDaid said a general election should have been called before the December Budget.
He said that despite some courageous and difficult decisions and the need to set tough savings targets no significant progress had been made in reducing the Exchequer deficit.
Mr McDaid said the Government was taking political soft options and not tackling the real issues.
"At this point I believe that it is in the best interests of the people of Ireland that the Government of Ireland has a working majority in the Dail of at least 20 seats, even if that Government is compromised of parties who have traditionally stood in opposition to Fianna Fail," Mr McDaid said.
"And I hope that Government will have the strength to take on their obvious responsibilities, free from the shackles of social partnership and political Dutch auctions."
Mr McDaid said the country would be gripped by instability and uncertainty in the spring unless a new Government was brought in.