Life after politics: Hayes steps down to be lobbyist for the banking sector
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes will retire from politics next year to become a lobbyist for the banking industry.
Mr Hayes made the shock announcement yesterday after informing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar he won't be defending his European Parliament seat for Dublin.
The former junior minister is leaving political life to become chief executive of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland.
Mr Hayes was thought to be planning a return to the Dáil in a future general election.
He was expected to ultimately replace Richard Bruton in the Dublin Bay North constituency.
The announcement was greeted by well-wishes from the long-serving politician's colleagues in Fine Gael.
The Taoiseach said Mr Hayes's retirement was "politics' loss" and the "private sector's gain".
The move brings to an end a 25-year career in national politics which saw him hold seats at council, Dáil, Seanad and European Parliament level for Fine Gael.
The former Dublin South-West TD said he wanted to be transparent about his decision to leave politics and move into banking.
"For family and professional reasons I think now is a good time to leave the stage," he said on RTÉ Radio One.
Mr Hayes also said he wanted to leave politics "on his own terms". "I think there's more to life than being a politician," he said.
Mr Hayes informed Mr Varadkar of his decision to retire from politics.
"The Taoiseach was really, really supportive and kind. He understands when you are in politics so long you can become one dimensional," he said.
Mr Hayes was director of elections for Fine Gael in 2016, and has a long history of representative politics with the Fine Gael party in Dublin.
Mr Hayes was first elected as a TD in 1997 and has been in the European Parliament since 2014.
He said he will see out his role as MEP before taking up the banking role.
He said he was confident there was "absolutely no conflict of interest".
In his resignation letter, Mr Hayes said: "I remain deeply grateful to the trust placed in me by the public in each of the eight elections I have contested.
"It has been a privilege to serve Fine Gael as a councillor, senator, TD, minister and MEP.
"I am taking this decision for family and professional reasons.
"There is life after politics."
Mr Hayes said Fine Gael has "never been in such a healthy condition" and said the party will do "great things" under Mr Varadkar's leadership.
He made the decision so Fine Gael will have time to find a replacement before the EU election.