Upton joins women's exodus from the Dail
ANOTHER female politician shocked Leinster House last night by announcing that she will not be seeking re-election.
Dublin South Central TD Mary Upton informed her Labour party colleagues yesterday that she is to retire from the Dail.
The move follows similar decisions from fellow Labour TD Liz McManus and Fine Gael's Olwyn Enright.
Ms Upton (64) has only been in the Dail since a by-election in 1999 and has never served in Government.
In a statement last night, she revealed that party leader Eamon Gilmore was only informed of her decision yesterday afternoon.
Ms Upton said: "It has been a great privilege and honour to serve the people of Dublin South Central as a Deputy for the past 11 years.
"I have greatly enjoyed my time in the Dail and it has been a very rewarding experience."
She added: "However, I believe that now is the right time for me to stand down and make way for others.
"The Labour Party is at its highest level ever in the opinion polls and I believe that Dublin South Central can return two Labour Party Deputies at the next election."
Paying tribute, Mr Gilmore said that she was an "able and articulate deputy and a very effective spokesperson originally in Agriculture and later in Tourism, Culture and Sport who has made a great contribution to the Labour Party".
"While the retirement of such a competent and experienced parliamentarian will be a loss, I know that there are a number of able public representatives within the Labour Party in Dublin South Central and I am confident that we will be able to win two seats there at the next election."
Labour has a very strong base in the constituency and given the current poll ratings, Ms Upton could have expected to easily return to the Dail.
A selection convention will now be scheduled for the coming months, where the favourite candidates will be Ballyfermot councillor Michael Conaghan and Terenure councillor Eric Byrne.
At the last election, Cllr Byrne missed out on a seat by just 69 votes and he can therefore be hopeful of taking Ms Upton's seat. However, her decision not to run may also open up a place on the ticket for a younger candidate.
This could see a battle between Ms Upton's nephew, Henry Upton, and Rebecca Moynihan, both members of Dublin City Council.