herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Labour TD surprises party colleagues by stepping down

Robert Dowds won’t run
Robert Dowds won’t run

A Labour backbencher has announced his decision to step down at the general election after the party privately conceded it had little chance of holding on to two seats.

In a surprise move, Dublin Mid-West TD Robert Dowds said yesterday that he believed his Dail colleague Joanna Tuffy is better placed to hold on to her seat.

Integrity

Mr Dowds said he will not contest the election, despite being selected alongside Ms Tuffy at the party's convention in June.

Senior party figures described the move as "unexpected", but said private polling indicated that the party will at best take one seat.

Tanaiste Joan Burton paid tribute to Mr Dowds, who she described as a "politician with integrity and a steadfast advocate for his constituents".

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Dowds admitted that voters in his constituency remain "sore" as a result of some of the decisions made by the Government.

"Fine Gael and Labour managed to elect four TDs last time, which was a great achievement. I got a big vote in Clondalkin, but I know people are still feeling sore," he said.

"While we have got some of those voters back, we won't be able to return two this time."

Mr Dowds took a swipe at EU Commissioner Phil Hogan over his "mishandling" of the water charges issue.

"The Government hasn't got everything right, Phil Hogan's mishandling of water charges being the low point in this regard," he said.

The Dublin-Mid West constituency is likely to return a Sinn Fein TD in local councillor and party strategist Eoin O Broin.

Fine Gael is looking to defend its two seats, currently held by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and her Dail colleague Derek Keating.

Fianna Fail is represented by former Chief Whip John Curran, who is one of a number of former TDs seeking to make a Dail comeback.

They include former Green Party TD Paul Gogarty, who is representing the Shane Ross-led Independent Alliance.

Anne Marie McNally is the Social Democrats' candidate, while councillors Gino Kenny and Francis Timmons are also running.

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