Dublin South Central TD Mary Upton said her move to bow out of national politics after 11 years would open the way for others.
But her shock decision leaves party strategists in a difficult position who were counting on her popularity to help carry through a second Labour candidate in the area in the next general election.
The party’s spokeswoman on Arts, Sport and Tourism met leader Eamon Gilmore to announce her move. In a statement, she said it had been a great “privilege and honour” to serve her constituents.
She added: “However, I believe that now is the right time for me to stand down and make way for others. The Labour Party is at its highest level ever in the opinion polls and I believe that Dublin South Central can return two Labour Party deputies at the next election.”
Ms Upton’s decision comes after fellow Labour TD Liz McManus earlier this month announced she would not seek re-election. Fine Gael’s Olwyn Enright also recently decided she would not contest the next general election.
Ms Upton was first elected as a TD in a 1999 by-election in Dublin South Central, following the death of her elected brother, Pat.
A university lecturer, she went on to become the party’s spokesperson on Agriculture and Food after being re-elected in 2002. In the last election, she polled over 12% of first preference votes, while her running colleague Eric Byrne narrowly missed out on a place in the five-seater constituency.
Mr Byrne said last night he was “shocked” by Ms Upton’s decision.
The move by Ms Upton could throw the selection process into chaos. It remains unclear if her nephew, Cllr Henry Upton, will put his name forward.