Taoiseach praises outgoing Jim Daly: 'I always admired his directness, his capacity for independent thought'

Taoiseach praises outgoing Jim Daly: 'I always admired his directness, his capacity for independent thought'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has paid tribute to Minister Jim Daly following the Cork South West TD's decision to retire from politics.

Mr Daly looks set to remain at his post as junior health minister despite his intention not to seek re-election.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said the Taoiseach has “no plans for a reshuffle”.

In his statement, Mr Varadkar confirmed Mr Daly approached him to inform him of his decision to stand down#.

“Jim Daly met me earlier this week to inform me of his decision not to contest the next General Election,” he said.

Describing Mr Daly as a “close colleague” the Taoiseach paid tribute to his work as junior health minister.

“Jim is a close colleague and has done a stellar job as Minister of State for Mental Health & Older People,” he added.

I have always admired his directness, his capacity for independent thought and his unique way of doing things.He has secured massive resources for mental health, with the Budget for that area now approaching €1 billion per annum

“He is also pressing on with plans to make the Fair Deal scheme fairer for farmers and business people, and a new transformative statutory scheme for home care,” the Taoiseach said.

Fine Gael was the strongest party in Cork South West in the last general election with 32% of the vote, yet only took one seat.

With Mr Daly's decision to retire, Senator Tim Lombard will become the party's lead candidate.

“We have an excellent candidate already selected in Senator Tim Lombard, and we will build on our last performance in the next election,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Daly told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that it had been “a deeply personal decision” as he has five children aged between six years and 16 years and he felt that he had put politics first for many years and it was now time to put his family first.

“My oldest son was two weeks old when I entered politics. He’s now 16 and 6’2”.”

The junior minister said he “absolutely loved the work” and it had been “the most difficult decision. I love politics and I love the work I do. I don’t mind doing the work.”

He had been “wrestling” with the decision for the last six to nine months and had decided to take the summer to reflect on his decision which was not a reflection on the system, he said.

For rural TDs it was particularly difficult because of the distances involved. It was a four hour journey for him to return home while colleagues who could commute to Dublin could bring their children to school before going to work.

He had left home early last Monday morning and would not return until Saturday, he said.

For right or wrong I am putting my family first.

Mr Daly told of how when he informed his family of his decision his 12 year old son asked would he lose his ministerial driver. “He told me ‘I loved you being a Minister and having drivers, but I prefer it when you’re home and my dad.’”

As for the future, he said that he does not know what he will do. Prior to going into politics he was a school principal, but he does not think he will return to teaching. “I have no business interests, no career options immediately in front of me.”

The Taoiseach had been “extremely decent” when he informed him of his decision. “He showed real appreciation of what I have done.”

Mr Daly said he was committed to his job and that the Taoiseach had not indicated that he wanted him to stand down as a Minister of State. “My understanding is that I will continue to do what I’ve been doing for the last two years.”

- Additional reporting Vivienne Clarke

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