FORMER Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore is bowing out of politics and will not contest the next general election.
He was forced to resign as party leader after Labour lost heavily in local and European Parliament elections in May 2014. At the time his own TDs and Senators turned against him days after the final results were declared.
But in the past fortnight he has been warmly praised for championing the same-sex marriage referendum within government, which was carried by a resounding vote 12 days ago.
Mr Gilmore has been a TD since June 1989, when he was elected for the then-Workers' Party. Prior to that he had worked as an official of the Irish Transport & General Workers' Union, which later became SIPTU.
He went on to serve as junior environment minister when the renamed Democratic Left (DL) joined with Fine Gael and Labour in the Rainbow Coalition of 1994-1997.
Mr Gilmore went on to join Labour after DL merged with them in 1999.
In autumn 2002 he stood for the Labour Party leadership after Ruairi Quinn resigned, but was defeated by his former DL and trade union colleague, Pat Rabbitte.
He was elected Labour leader in 2007, leading it into Coalition with Fine Gael in 2011, when he was appointed Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister.
Mr Gilmore thanked the Dun Laoghaire Labour Party for their continued support and friendship, and the staff with whom he had worked for their loyalty and hard work.
"It has been an honour to represent the people of Dun Laoghaire for the past 30 years," he said.
Locals in Dun Laoghaire praised the veteran politician last night
Emmet Driver (24) described Mr Gilmore as "a strong character with great ideas".
He highlighted the former party leader's involvement in the recent referendum campaign. "The fact that Eamon Gilmore had a great victory for marriage equality and now won't be running is a real shame," he said.
"He was a very hard worker in the area and has worked well for the Labour Party," said Deirdre Coughlan.
"I like listening to him speak, he has a nice flow. My late husband used to be a supporter of Labour and I met Eamon a couple of times. I remember handing out leaflets for the party years back," she added.
"There were things Labour could have done better during this term, which probably went against him," 24-year-old Karl Fogarty said.
However he said that "things are picking up" in Dun Laoghaire and credited Mr Gilmore with a role in that.
Mr Gilmore last night praised his Labour Party parliamentary colleagues, and others across the political spectrum, for their work in the public interest. He said he would continue to contribute to public life and the Labour Party.
"Above all, I wish to thank my wife Carol and our children Grainne, Oisin and Sean for their love and comfort through all the challenges of my public life. And I want to thank too our extended family, and our personal friends who were always there for us," he added.