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Monday, 27th November 2023

O’Dowd to stand down after 50 years as an elected representative

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Deputy Fergus O'Dowd pictured in his constituency office with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2017.

"His voice will be missed in the next Dáil" - Leo Varadkar

In a statement issued to local media today, the local Fine Gael TD, Fergus O'Dowd, has announced his intention to stand down at the next General Election.  

O’Dowd said that it has been an honour and privilege to represent the people of the Louth constituency for a total of fifty years as an elected representative. 

“I have served as a Councillor, as Mayor of Drogheda for three terms, as Senator, as Dáil Deputy, as Chair of both Oireachtas Transport Committee and Good Friday Implementation Committee and Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Environment, Community & Local Government” he said. 

“Throughout my working life I have enjoyed the heartfelt support of the people of my constituency. I have deeply appreciated their loyalty and goodwill which made my job representing them all that more satisfying. 

“I would also like to thank my wonderful wife Agnes, my best friend at all times, and my sons Vincent, Donal and Garrett and my extended family including my six grandchildren some of whom may someday choose the political life too. There is no more noble profession than trying to do good for people I will tell them. 

“I want to also pay tribute to my dedicated staff who made my success possible over the years alongside the party members of the Louth constituency whose support was key to my re-election over the years. To my colleagues in Leinster House of whatever political persuasion, I say thank you for the many friendships and commitments forged to building a better Ireland for everyone. 

“I am very proud of my efforts in helping to create a more caring and compassionate Ireland. Among my most important campaigns was to ensure improved quality of care for residents in Nursing Homes and I was honoured to be named Magill TD of the Year in 2006 for putting the national spotlight on this critical issue, an issue that I will continue to prioritise. 

“Reform of the Freedom of Information Act was also a high priority for me, to ensure that all nursing home reports were finally placed in the public domain along with ensuring the establishment of HIQA to ensure the HSE did not continue as a provider of care and also remain in charge of the inspection regime.   

“I intend to continue to be a strong and forceful advocate nationally for improved care and supports for older people into the future. 

“I also ensured that our national heritage was protected by fighting a successful High Court Action against developers who illegally demolished the historic 250 year old Drogheda Grammar School with a wrecking ball in the darkness of night, a protected structure of national importance which was destroyed at 4am on a bank holiday weekend on 23rd July 1989.  

O’Dowd added “When no one else would act the late Eddie O'Doherty and I took this legal action, forced the developers to sift and sort the rubble by hand to ensure the eventual reconstruction of the building and that the fines faced by such acts were increased from 10,000 pounds at the time to 1 million.

"We also obtained an order for the imprisonment of the developers if they refused to continue the sorting of material on site. The rebuilt and restored Drogheda Grammar School building stands proudly today in Laurence Street in the centre of Drogheda. 

“I now look forward to working closely with the selected Fine Gael candidates in Louth and East Meath for the upcoming local, European and General Elections. 

“Finally, we should always remember the wise Irish seanfhocail "Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine," that we all live in each other’s shadows and must never forget that helping one deserving cause is helping all of the community.”

Paying tribute to Deputy O’Dowd, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Fergus joined Fine Gael during the leadership of Garret FitzGerald. Since then, he has remained true to that mission for social progress and social justice. 

“We have served in the Parliamentary Party since 2007 and on many occasions he reminded us, as a party, of our duty of care and empathy to wider society. His voice will be missed in the next Dáil. 

"Deputy O’Dowd has been a powerful advocate for the rights of older people. He is driven by a deep sense of justice and I know that while he will not be in the next Parliamentary Party, he will continue to work and campaign on these issues and I hope I will still be able to work with him on them in some way.

“Fergus has an admirable electoral record having won eight elections in a row to the Seanad, Council and Dáil in which he is serving his fifth consecutive term. This tells us that the people of Drogheda and Louth value him as their public representative.

“I served alongside him as a Minister in the first Enda Kenny Government and when I became Leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach, I was honoured to nominate him as Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Good Friday Agreement, a position he has held since. It’s been really useful to have Fergus as a sounding board and advisor on cross-border issues and on Northern Ireland.”

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