Waterford Senator Paudie Coffey has said in an emotional interview that family - not health, money or any other reason - lay behind his decision not to run in the upcoming General Election.
Senator Coffey - who will be 50 this year - said: "I've done 20 years in politics and I've enjoyed every bit of it...The primary reason (for stepping down from politics) is that I want to spend more time with my family". He has three children with wife Suzanne; aged 16, 14 and 10.
His voice breaking in an iinterview with WLR FM's Damien Tiernan, he said: "I'm happy I've made the right decision. I need to do things for myself and my family now. That's the way it is."
"The fire wasn't in the belly anymore for politics...You need to be committed," he said. "Politicians are well paid, but it is a sacrifice (too)."
He said he felt he would have been elected if had chosen to run in the next General Election, but "the fire wasn't in the belly anymore, for politics".
He described his time in politics as a "privilege".
John Deasy rivalry
Regarding his long-running clash with fellow Waterford politician and constituency rival John Deasy - who announced last August his own intention to step down as a TD in the next General Election - Senator Coffey said: "John turned cold towards me...In the end I just gave up trying to have a relationship; there was just no point.
"I'm a team player. When you have one person doing their own thing all the time, it just doesn't work," he said. "I wish John Deasy well. I'm not a bitter person. He did his best for Waterford too, in his own way."
In July, Senator Coffey settled his High Court action over a newspaper article which he said defamed him when he was likened to an 18th-century highway robber in an article about boundary changes in south Kilkenny, following a 13-day trial last December.
Referring to this year's "very serious court case", he said: "I put everything on the line to defend my good family name, and I succeeded."
He said the court case had not crippled him financially, adding:
If anybody thinks that, they can come out to Portlaw and see the nice new house I'm building, and the nice new car I bought this year. It certainly didn't cripple me.
He said however that: "It shook me for a while", as he spent five weeks in court. "I came out of it stronger than I went in," he said. "I've no regrets. If it happened again, I'd do the same (fight the case)."
He thanked the people of Waterford for their support over the years, and said: "I know I'd have been elected, if I ran. I know that...I'm going out on my terms.
"It's so important we cherish our democracy...Not every country can do that."
He said his health was "100%, spot on" and that his health status had nothing to do with his reason to leave politics.
"With the election coming closer, I need to be up-front to say: "This is no longer for me...I'm quite excited at what the future holds for me."
Asked what his message would be for his family, he finished on an emotional note, saying: "Thanks for being there for me...I'll be there for you now."