Fianna Fáil TD Tony Dempsey denied today that he was retiring from politics because he feared losing his seat at the next General Election.
The 61-year-old former Wexford hurling manager was elected to the Dáil for the first time in 2002, but has said he will not be standing in the next election.
He said the people who claimed he was being forced to go were liars.
“It was entirely of my own making. Obviously I would always consider other people’s feelings in terms of my family. But politically, it was entirely of my own making. I spoke with the Taoiseach last night and he expressed bitter disappointment at me leaving the scene,” he said.
Although Mr Dempsey was seen as an energetic and driven politician, his decision not to hold regular constituency clinics or attend every single funeral was not popular with some voters in the five-seat Wexford constituency.
Within the first year of his election, he was back to holding constituency clinics.
In an interview with South East Radio’s Straight Talk show, Mr Dempsey said he was standing down for family reasons and to do other things.
“I’ve given it two weeks of intense consideration with Gemma my wife, and my children. So it’s a very, very difficult situation and a very difficult decision to make. I’m leaving something that I have loved and something to which I believe I made a very positive contribution.”
Before entering politics, Mr Dempsey spent 35 years working as a teacher and was principal of Enniscorthy Vocational College from 1996 to 2000. He was was heavily involved in Wexford GAA and came to national prominence as the manager of the county hurling team.
Local Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey said he had enjoyed a good working relationship with Mr Dempsey.
“When we were trying to represent Wexford at national level, he was always very willing to do his best,” he said.
He said he believed the lack of support from some sections of the Fianna Fáil party had been a factor in his decision to resign.
“My sympathies are with Mr Dempsey in this case because he had endured a fairly significant amount of negative campaigning from people within his own party and no doubt there will be a certain amount of hypocrisy when those same people are wishing him well,” he said.
The woman expected to replace Mr Dempsey on the Fianna Fáil ticket is Lisa McDonald, a young solicitor who is a member of Wexford County Council.