Cork TD David Stanton announces he won’t seek re-election to the Dáil at the next general election

Cork East Fine Gael Deputy said it ‘has been a huge privilege to have served as a TD, a role that I have loved’

Deputy David Stanton.

Bill BrowneCorkman

The Cork East TD David Stanton has become the second sitting Fine Gael Deputy from Cork, after Cork North-West Deputy Michel Creed, to announce they will not be seeking re-election to the Dáil at the next general election.

The long-serving Midleton-based TD announced his intention to stand down at the Fine Gael constituency meeting on Monday evening, bringing the number of sitting Fine Gael TDs to announce that they will not be seeking re-election to five. The other three being John Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny), Brendan Griffin (Kerry) and Joe McHugh (Donegal).

A former teacher, Deputy Stanton was elected to the Dáil in 1997, holding onto his seat at five subsequent elections. He has filled several roles during his time in office, including party spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs and Equality, Labour Affairs and Defence.

In 2016 he was appointed Minister for State at the Department of Justice and Equality, with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, by the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Speaking to The Corkman, the 66-year-old said while it was not an easy decision to make, he felt it was the right time for him to announce he would not be seeking re-election.

“It been a huge privilege to have served as a TD, a role that I have loved. However, I have to be realistic, I’m reaching the age where I don’t want to be rambling around Leinster House in my 70’s,” he grinned.

“I also took the decision now because I felt it was the right time to do so in order to give the party and my colleagues enough time to identify someone else to stand in Cork East and allow them the time and space to build their own profile,” he added.

Asked if a successor had been identified, Deputy Stanton said “we will have to wait and see.”

“I’m not going to mention any names because that would be unfair. There will be a convention called, probably sometime in the autumn after the constituency boundaries have been sorted out. The changes won’t make a massive difference to the East Cork region, because it is already squared off between Waterford and Cork City,” said Deputy Stanton.

Looking back over his 26-year tenure in the Dáil, Deputy Stanton said there were a number of highlights, chief among them his role in assisting the passage of legislation making coercive control a criminal offence.

He also spoke of his pride at helping to establish the National Missing Persons Day, an idea first proposed by students at Davis College in Mallow.

“I was chair of the Justice Committee at the time and invited the students to Leinster House to make a presentation to the committee. I then went to the then Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, and he agreed to bring the idea to fruition,” said Deputy Stanton.

Asked about his plans for life away from the Dáil, Deputy Stanton said he would remain involved and interest in politics.

“I still have a year and a bit to go, so I will continue to work on behalf of my constituents. It’s funny, listening to some of the nice things that have been said about me over the past couple of days has been like standing at your own funeral,” he grinned.

“I don’t like the word retire, but I have to be realistic. When you are closing in on 70, you do not have the same energy you did when you were 20, so for me it’s a matter of changing step and doing something else. That said, I will remain involved and interested in politics and whoever is elected by the party to run in Cork East will receive my full support,” he added.

Deputy Stanton paid a warm tribute to all those who have supported him during his time as a TD, in particular acknowledging the support of his family.

“My job is only made possible by my loving family. They provided me with great fortitude throughout my time as a public representative for which I am eternally grateful”, said Deputy Stanton.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, led tributes to Deputy Stanton, describing his being a “brilliant TD and an excellent Minister of State for four-years.

“Anyone who has worked alongside David knows he is a true gentleman, and also one of the hardest-working TDs in Fine Gael and in the Oireachtas. There’s never any fuss, just hard work done well and consistently,” said the Taoiseach.

“He was an excellent minister and helped to progress the new gambling laws which are now coming into force. He piloted a new Youth Justice strategy and continues to work on youth work issues.

“David also helped to steer legislation to deal with coercive control through the Oireachtas, campaigns on special needs education and is currently calling for a poet laureate for the Houses of the Oireachtas,” he added.