Hammer blow to Renua hopes as Jonathan Irwin quits election campaign
RENUA'S general election campaign has suffered another blow, with Jack and Jill founder, Jonathan Irwin, stepping down as a general election candidate.
The leading charity campaigner told the Herald that health reasons mean he is unable to mount an election campaign in his chosen constituency of South Kildare.
He also wants to conserve his energies for his bid to stop the National Children's Hospital being built at St James's Hospital.
"I had a very successful cancer operation last year and it closed down all of the nerves in my right leg.
"There is no way I'd be able to canvass," he said.
"It was very arrogant of me to think that I could stroll through this."
Mr Irwin relies on a walking stick to move around and recently learnt how to drive an adapted car with the help of the Irish Wheelchair Association.
"I'll stay as passionate as ever about Renua," he added.
"I don't want to hurt the party, but I feel I can be most helpful on a national platform."
Mr Irwin has been a strong voice of opposition in the debate surrounding the locating of the National Children's Hospital at St James's Hospital.
He has championed Blanchardstown as the best site to locate the much-anticipated facility and plans to object to the application for planning permission for the hospital when it is lodged.
"If I had a political overcoat it might take away from perceptions of my integrity about the hospital," he pointed out.
"As a 74-year-old, broken-down old horse dealer, I must use the time and mobility I have to best effect - and, in particular, to fight the Government every step of the way to prevent them locking up sick children for the next 100 years within the St James's Campus," he said.
Mr Irwin said he was confident that he could have secured a seat in the three-seater constituency on transfer votes.
"I'll be happy to advise anyone who wants to run. There is a very real chance of winning the seat and a chance to join a young movement," he said.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with cancer and he underwent an operation in May, 2012.
"I'm absolutely cancer-free, which is wonderful," he said.
A spokesman for Renua said that the party both "understands and regrets Jonathan's decision not to contest" and added that he would still play a key role in the party.