Labour's Willie Penrose to step down as TD after 26 years
LABOUR Party stalwart Willie Penrose is to step down at the next general election after 26 years in Leinster House.
The former housing minister was involved in a tense recount that went on for days after the 2016 vote but ultimately survived on a day when his party was hammered at the polls.
A popular figure around Leinster House, Mr Penrose also works as a barrister and is well-known figure on the country music scene.
One Direction star Niall Horan canvassed for him during elections before hitting international fame.
Mr Penrose (61) was appointed a ‘super junior’ minister with responsibility for housing in 2011 after Labour entered government with Fine Gael.
However, he resigned from office after just a year in protest at the closure of Mullingar army barracks as part of the spending cutbacks.
Independent.ie understands that Labour will select former Westmeath footballer Alan Mangan in his place.
The 39-year-old from Castletown Geoghegan, Co. Westmeath is a community based health worker dealing with vulnerable people affected by alcohol and drugs misuse.
He was a member of Westmeath football team that won Leinster title in 2004.
And in 2011 HE WAS joint manager of Westmeath women team that won All Ireland intermediate title.
Mr Mangan is currently a selector with the Westmeath senior hurling team.
Willie Penrose said he is confident Mr Mangan will “carry the banner of the Labour party with great pride and do us proud”.
He predicted former sports star will bring the “same level of commitment, and winner's attitude” to his new life in politics, adding that the party will be 150pc behind the new candidate’s campaign
“I wouldn’t be stepping down if I didn’t believe the candidate that was going to replace me was going to win the seat in Longford-Westmeath,” he said.
The seat is “a Labour seat, not a Penrose seat and we will be out to prove people who say that this is a seat gone, it is not”, he added.