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Statement from Ciarán Cannon TD

19th March 2024 - Ciaran Cannon TD

“Following a career spanning twenty years, I have decided to leave politics and not contest the next General Election. I’ve enjoyed politics immensely and have been privileged to work alongside some very committed and talented people.


“After 20 years in any role, I think you begin to reach a point where you’ve given all you can give. I have a deep respect for the people who elected me again and again, and I’m either all in on their behalf, or I’m not.


“I sought election to make an impact, to do something of genuine value for society. That’s the inspiration for the vast majority of us in public life, and I’m confident that I can continue to have an impact in another role, with renewed purpose and passion. I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on my future. I spoke with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar just after Christmas and on a number of occasions since. He has been very supportive in allowing me the time and space to make this decision.

“It would be remiss of me not to comment on the difference between being a politician now and twenty years ago. That’s also been a factor in my decision to leave. There’s a coarseness, a toxicity in politics now that was barely palpable twenty years ago. None of us asks to be put on a pedestal, or to be treated any differently. We just ask to be treated with the same civility and respect as anyone else doing their job.


“Yes, politicians are subject to public scrutiny, and rightly so, but what we are experiencing right now goes far beyond that and can be deeply damaging to our wellbeing. At times it feels like it’s open season on you and your family. That’s not acceptable, nor indeed sustainable, if we want to have good people choosing politics as a career.

“I was first elected to Dáil Eireann in 2011 and the memories of that time are still vivid in my mind. Our country was on its knees and there was a deep sense of having lost control of our future. Everyone in Government at the time rolled up their sleeves to do the hard yards and while those years were challenging, there was also a great sense of collegiality and common purpose.


“Thirteen years later, any objective observer would argue that Ireland is a very different country. I was charged with reforming our further education and training provision, to make it fit for purpose so that the thousands of our people who were unemployed could re-skill and begin to make a contribution again.


“Working with a very supportive Minister Ruairi Quinn and exceptional public servants, we did exactly that, and the impact of our work still reverberates today. My three years in the Department of Foreign Affairs saw me working with equally exceptional public servants in delivering Ireland’s deeply impactful international development programme and forging stronger links with our Irish community worldwide.


“None of this work would have been possible without the support of the people of Galway East. I am deeply grateful to them for putting their trust in me again and again.


“I’m also deeply grateful to an amazing group of people who have worked with me on every campaign since 2004, particularly my family and a trusted circle of close friends. It’s not easy being out there on the campaign trail, yet they committed a huge amount of personal time to me.


“I’m also fortunate to have superb colleagues in my office who work tirelessly every day to support me and my constituents. The Fine Gael team in Galway East is a strong one with a new generation stepping up to the plate to serve the public. I’ll be working closely with that team to ensure that the people of Galway East continue to be ably represented in Dáil Eireann and I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents for the remainder of this Dáil.

“Finally, I want to thank my wife and son who give me the love and support I need to do this job well. My wife is my guiding star, I can’t even begin to describe how pivotal she has been to my work. My son was only seven when I started my career, he has grown up surrounded by politics and has become a trusted advisor on so many aspects of the job, particularly as my work applies to his generation, a generation that gives me so much hope for our future.


“Our Irish young people are highly educated and motivated, with a deep sense of their collective responsibility to care for our planet. We’re in very safe hands now and for me, that’s the greatest legacy of my twenty years.”


An Taoiseach and Fine Gael Leader Leo Varadkar said:


“Ciarán is one of the hardest-working and most committed TDs in the Dail. He has served the people of east Galway as a Senator, TD and Minister of State. In all of these roles, he worked tirelessly for the good of his constituents and for the country.


“He was appointed by Enda Kenny as a Minister of State at the Department of Education & Skills, and I later appointed him to the Department of Foreign Affairs where he had responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development.


“In recognition of his dedication to education and the developing world, he was appointed a UNICEF global champion for education in 2019.


“Ciarán is a gentleman who will be missed by all who know him or who work with him in the Dáil. I wish him the very best in his life after politics.


“I particularly want to thank Ciarán for the role he played in helping Ireland to secure election to the UN Security Council. I have always admired the way, as a TD in a rural constituency, that he promoted climate action, environmental protection and biodiversity even when not always popular.”

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