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Veteran Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan announces retirement from frontline politics

LAOIS-OFFALY FINE Gael TD and former Minister for Justice and Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has announced that he will not contest the next General Election.

Flanagan’s resignation will likely be seen as another blow to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s party as Fine Gael continues to lose high-profile figures from its ranks. 

Flanagan joins former environment minister Richard Bruton, former agriculture minister Michael Creed and other TDs like Brendan Griffin, John Paul Phelan, Joe McHugh, and David Stanton, who have all announced that they will not be seeking re-election in recent months. 

The string of resignations has led to questions about Varadkar’s leadership.

Flanagan was first elected to the Dáil in 1987 and has won re-election a further seven times in the years since. He served in various high-ranking positions within the party, including Fine Gael party chair, chief whip and director of elections.

In a statement, he said that the time was right for him to step away from frontline politics. 

“I wish to signal my intent to step back from front line politics and will not be contesting the next general election,” he said. 

“It is now 36 years since I was first elected to Dail Eireann. Between my father Oliver J and myself that’s 80 years of public service and 23 General Elections. In my view now it’s time to pass the baton to a younger generation.

“I’m honoured to have enjoyed a thoroughly fulfilling political career serving both as your TD and at the cabinet table in two of the most influential Departments of State – Foreign Affairs and Justice.”

Flanagan’s statement referenced the key moments in his career in politics, including his time as Minister for Foreign Affairs and as Minister for Justice.  

He also gave some indication as to why he had made his decision. 

“Politics is an ever demanding and increasingly high pressure career. The role requires ever crucial focus and 24/7 application. The volatile nature of social media has added significantly to the helter skelter and often chaotic workload of a TD.

“But having spent all my adulthood doing this job there’s no doubting that being a political representative connects you daily to the very lifeblood of the country.”

Flanagan’s statement also references the changing nature of his own constituency, which  has been split as part of the redrawing of Ireland’s political map.

There will now be two different constituencies up for grabs and Fine Gael will need to name candidates for them ahead of the next general election.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar praised Flanagan’s career as a TD for Laois and Offaly and as a minister.   

“Charlie Flanagan has made an outstanding contribution to his constituency of Laois and Offaly, to Ireland and to Fine Gael.

“I am confident that Fine Gael will retain its seat in Laois at the next general election.

“We have an excellent team of councillors and will select one or more candidates in the months ahead, giving them plenty of time to prepare for an electoral contest and to retain the seat as well as challenging for a gain in the new Offaly constituency.”