Joan Burton pays tribute to 'outstanding' Rabbitte as he quits after 25 years
former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has announced he will not contest the upcoming General Election.
Mr Rabbitte told his local constituency branch in Dublin South West that he had decided not to defend his Dail seat.
Last year Tanaiste Joan Burton dropped Mr Rabbitte as communications minister in a move that he said was taken based on "age and chemistry".
But in a statement last night, Ms Burton paid tribute to her party colleague, who she described as a "major figure on the Irish political scene".
"While Pat has had a significant national profile, he has always worked hard for the entire community in Dublin South West," she said.
"I know that amidst a lengthy political career, one of his proudest achievements was his involvement in the first National Drugs Strategy during the Rainbow Government in an effort to address the drugs scourge in Dublin. He will also be long remembered for the forensic and painstaking work he did as a member of the Dirt Inquiry.
"Pat's wit and insight are unique and I am sure that while he is exiting politics, he will not be lost to Irish public life," she added.
"There is no doubt that Pat has been one of the truly outstanding parliamentarians of his generation.
Senior party figures said they were not surprised at Mr Rabbitte's decision last night, which was made almost a year after he was sacked from Cabinet.
Mr Rabbitte is known to have agonised over his decision in recent months, but finally declared his intentions last night.
He told party colleagues he decided to step down after over 25 years in office. Labour's other sitting TD in Dublin South West is Eamonn Maloney.
Mr Rabbitte has followed former Labour Party leaders Eamon Gilmore and Ruairi Quinn in deciding to step down.
Mr Rabbitte served as party leader from 2002-2007, and again in Cabinet as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.