The poll topper in the last local elections in the New Ross district, Cllr Martin Murphy has made the shock decision to retire from politics this May.
Cllr Murphy, who hails from the Templetown parish, is standing down paving the way for an independent councillor to run in the local elections on Friday, May 24. The 68-year-old former lighthouse keeper has seen the light and is moving on from the 24/7 grind of local politics, which he first dipped his toes into 12 years ago as a Fianna Fáil councillor.
Cllr Murphy said: 'I am 68 and it's a lot of commitment to sign up for another five years, meaning I'd be 73 when I'd be finishing up. I just decided another five years wasn't necessary.'
Cllr Murphy said it was time to hand the baton on to another prospective councillor. 'It was difficult. I had a good bit of groundwork done and I would have been confident of being retaining the seat. I just felt it was time. Maybe I came to politics a little too late.'
He said he loved being out and about meeting people in his role as a public representative, especially in the Fethard-on-Sea area and on the Hook Peninsula, where he worked in the lighthouse services for many years.
He enjoyed the freedom being an Independent councillor gave him, unlike in the party political system.
One such freedom is not having to declare you are standing down, but for Cllr Murphy, it was about giving a prospective councillor a chance.
'The reason I'm announcing this today is for anybody else interested in running, as it would be too late if nobody knew until the last day. They'd have no chance.'
Describing working as a councillor as being both rewarding and frustrating, Cllr Murphy said once you are in the position for a time you can build up a good working relationship with the executive and make progress.
'You have to get on well with people and be fair and have respect. Being an Independent freed me up an awful lot because a party has ownership of you and generally speaking the party tell you what to do. I have really enjoyed being an Independent. I have seen other talented councillors not being allowed to go to the next level when they were well able to.'
He said he has been weighing up the decision since the autumn and having mulled it over during Christmas and the New Year decided not to stand.
Instead he has taken up dancing as a hobby and plans to keep himself busy in the council for the next ten weeks and afterwards with his hobbies and many interests.
New Ross Standard