Long-serving local Independent councillor Jim Ruttle has announced his intention to retire from politics following a 30-year career.
After more than three decades in public life, firstly as a Senator in 1980 and as a County Councillor since 1985, Cllr Ruttle, from Manor Kilbride, has confirmed that he will not be contesting the forthcoming local elections.
In a personal statement he has thanked the people of west Wicklow for the great support they have given him during more than three decades as a Wicklow County Councillor.
'The personal loyalty shown to me was exceptional and helped me weather many storms over the years. I have thoroughly enjoyed representing you as a solid and enduring people. I wish to say a special thanks to my rural and farming supporters who never wavered,' he said.
Over many years, Cllr Ruttle had built up a formidable organisation which was admired by many and was seen at its best at election time.
He expressed his gratitude to them 'for their great loyalty and support over the years, every election they travelled the roads and lanes of west Wicklow and always achieved a positive result'.
Recognising the importance of a supportive family for a politician he said that 'in that regard, I was greatly blessed with my wife Kathryn and my sons, Robert and Michael, who gave me great support over the years. It must be remembered that a politician's family is in public life, not just the politician himself'.
Cllr Ruttle took special pride in his involvement in education in west Wicklow with both St Kevin's, Dunlavin and Blessington Community College.
He was also actively involved in the Blessington Further Education Centre which he found very rewarding when funding was secured for its expansion some years ago. If he has a regret he said that it is that he will not be involved when the expansion of the Blessington and Dunlavin Schools takes place in coming years.
'I will always treasure my involvement in both schools', he said.
Among numerous other local projects which have contributed to economic and social development in Wicklow, Cllr Ruttle was directly involved with and supportive of the funding and development of Blessington Greenway right from the start. He said that he is looking forward to the next stage of the development of this great amenity.
'I feel that after thirty years' service, now is the right time for me to retire from public life and I look forward to the next chapter of my life,' he said.