By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – The dissolution of the 28th Dail has seen one of the largest number of TDs bowing out of politics, including former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and 10 former ministers.
Twenty-two of the 166 members of the Dail are leaving the political arena for reasons of age, health, personal or business reasons. Many hope to bequeath their seats to relatives.
Fianna Fail is losing nine deputies from the class of 1997, including Reynolds, who was taoiseach from 1992-94.
Former Foreign Minister David Andrews, who has been in the Dail since 1995, is retiring but has one son hoping to succeed him in his Dun Laoghaire seat and another running in Dublin Southeast.
Former Minister and EU Commissioner Michael O’Kennedy, who had often been mentioned as a possible party leader, is going, as is Sean Doherty, whose career was hit by the phone-tapping scandal when he was justice minister under Taoiseach Charles Haughey.
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Chris Flood, a former junior health minister, is not running on health grounds. Ben Briscoe is ending a Dail tradition that dates back to his father. Liam Lawlor has decided not to run again as he faces a lengthy investigation by the Flood Tribunal investigating allegations of planning corruption.
Also stepping down are Fianna Fail’s Mattie Brennan and Denis Foley, who was revealed to have an offshore bank account when he was sitting on an Oireachtas Committee probing tax dodging.
A big loss for Fine Gael will be Ivan Yates, who had been tipped as a future leader but is leaving to build up his bookmaking business.
In Waterford, former Agriculture Minister Austin Deasy is hoping his son will succeed him, and in Dun Laoghaire Fine Gael will lose both former Defense Minister Sean Barrett and Monica Barnes, who has been to the forefront in supporting women in politics.
Four other long-serving Fine Gael TDs, Tom Enright, Brendan McGahon, Liam Burke and John Browne, are also calling it a day. Browne’s son is hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps, as is Enright’s daughter.
The Progressive Democrats will lose party founder and former Minister Des O’Malley, whose daughter is seeking a seat in Dun Laoghaire, and veteran former Minister Bobby Molloy, who decided to opt out after the recent controversy about his representations in a child-rape case.
Labor will lose Prionsias De Rossa, who led a branch of the republican movement through various names changes from official Sinn Fein to Democratic Left before he merged that party with Labor.
Also going are two Independent Donegal TDs who supported the FF/PD coalition, Thomas Gildea and Harry Blaney, who at 74 was the oldest of the TDs in the Dail. Blaney hopes his nephew will take the seat that was originally held by the late Fianna Fail Minister Niall Blaney.