Taoiseach Brian Cowen has paid tribute to Defence Minister Tony Killeen following his decision not to contest the next general election.
In a statement released today the Taoiseach said:
"I want to extend my good wishes to Tony Killeen on his announcement today that he will not contest the next General Election.
"Tony Killeen has been a popular and respected figure in Irish public life for over 25 years.
"Tony was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1992 and he has been vociferous and very committed representative for the people of Clare in our national parliament. He is also a former Chairman of Clare County Council.
"Tony’s departure from politics will be deeply regretted in his constituency. He has achieved much on behalf of his constituents and he has been, at all times, a hard-working, dedicated and articulate TD.
"Tony has also given distinguished service in a number of Government departments. He has a fine understanding of public policy and made an undoubted contribution during his tenures as Minister of State with responsibility for Environment and Energy, Minister of State for Labour Affairs and Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries and Forestry.
"It was my great pleasure to appoint Tony Killeen Minister for Defence in March last year. At the cabinet table, Tony has made a very strong input to the workings of government. His contributions are always intelligent, calm and rooted in his vast knowledge and understanding of public policy.
"I fully understand Tony’s decision not to seek re-election. He has shown true grit and strength of character in battling a serious illness in recent times.
"I want to thank Tony for his friendship and effort over the years. I wish him and his family all the very best on his retirement."