Monday 6th November 2023
Statement by Frances Fitzgerald MEP
“Over recent weeks I have taken time to reflect on the 2024 European Parliament Elections and have decided that I will not contest the Dublin constituency again.
“I will continue to work hard in the European Parliament until the end of this term in 2024, representing people across the Dublin constituency.
“As Fine Gael prepares for the 2024 European Elections I look forward to supporting and campaigning for our candidates, and particularly for the person that I hope will be supported by the voters and become my successor in Dublin. Democracy and peace are under immense strain, and we must elect people to the European Parliament who are fully committed to the founding values of the EU.
“Over my career I have been fortunate to have played a part in shaping the building blocks as Ireland developed as a more mature, inclusive and open society.
“Since 1992 I have been privileged to serve as a Councillor, TD and Senator, and most recently as MEP for Dublin. I am grateful for the trust placed in me by voters in the constituencies of Dublin Bay South and Dublin Mid West, and particularly the loyalty and support shown to me in the Dublin Constituency at the 2019 European Parliament Elections.
“As a member of Dail Eireann, I have appreciated the opportunities to serve as Tánaiste and in three Cabinet offices. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed me as Tánaiste and to the Ministries of Children and Youth Affairs, and Justice and Equality, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as Tánaiste also, and to Enterprise and Innovation.
“Those opportunities allowed me to bring forward important legislation, and to work in Government and as part of broader movements to deliver ground-breaking referendums which have delivered key changes in Ireland. It has been especially important to me that, as the Minister responsible, I was instrumental in bringing forward the Children’s Referendum and the Marriage Equality Referendum.
“In the European Parliament, working with a superb team, I have informed and developed just and sustainable policies in a range of areas – equality, violence against women, the sustainable development goals, international development, trade, health, finance and banking.
“I would like to thank all those without whom none of the work was possible - my family and friends, the many Fine Gael members and elected representatives, and my staff and teams of supporters. To the colleagues with whom I have served and whose support, mostly in the best and occasionally in the worst of times, has been of incalculable value, my deepest gratitude. Their advice, guidance, friendship and kindness were vital.
“Politics can be a singularly individual and, at times, lonely space, but it is also one in which strong, trusted and lasting relationships form and make tackling the challenges of democracy and governing possible. Much remains to be done. Children’s rights, business and ethical international trade, and health issues will continue to be priorities for me.
“It will come as no surprise, that I will also continue my long-standing commitment to equality and women’s rights, working to address the reality of our unfinished democracy by advancing the role of women as leaders in political and public life.”
An Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader Leo Varadkar said:
‘I was very sorry to hear that Frances had decided not to seek re-election to the European Parliament. Given the big vote she secured in 2019 and her hard work in Brussels and Dublin since then, I have no doubt that she would have been comfortably re-elected. The decision not to run again for elected office is a difficult and deeply personal one for any politician. I know Frances felt that this was the right time for her and in many ways, that’s what matters the most.
“I have known Frances since I interned in her office as a student, serving with her on the Front Bench of Fine Gael in opposition and appointed to cabinet on the same day. I was honoured when she agreed to serve as my Tánaiste when I became Taoiseach in 2017. In resigning from cabinet later that year, she did so selflessly in order to avoid an unnecessary General Election. Her position and actions were subsequently vindicated the following year. It helped to teach me the importance of due process, the danger of the rush to judgement that happens so often in politics but most of all the dignity and respect that comes when someone putting their party and country first.
“Frances is also among a very small number of politicians who have managed to get elected in two completely different constituencies in modern times. She is an example to any new candidate who is ambitious and also willing to do the groundwork as well as the policy work.
“I can honestly say that few others have achieved so much in politics as Frances Fitzgerald. She changed Fine Gael and Ireland for the better helping to make us a more modern, equal and tolerant place. As Ireland’s first Government Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, she established Túsla and ensured that our Constitution vindicated the rights and interests of children. She was the Minister responsible for the Marriage Equality referendum and brought through the Oireachtas the laws that gave effect to that historic vote. She served as an effective Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and a loyal and capable Tánaiste.
“Frances came to politics believing that our country needed to be a safer place for women and a place in which women and girls had equality of opportunity. Thanks to Frances Fitzgerald and the women around her, we are on the cusp of achieving exactly that. The work goes on and I know Frances’ decision not to contest re-election next year does not mean that she not remain actively involved and interested in public affairs, equality and social justice.”