Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten will not contest next general election

"Since my initial election I have fought tirelessly for the improvement and delivery of our health services at both local and national level”

Denis Naughten TD addressed the Taoiseach in the Dáil last Wednesday

Denis Naughten

Philip Ryan and Edel

Former Cabinet Minister and Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Denis Naughten has decided not to run in the next general election.

Mr Naughten said he decide to end a 26-year career in national politics for both personal and professional reasons.

He won a Fine Gael seat in the 1997 general election following the sudden death of his father Liam Naughten in a car crash.

However, he left the party in 2011 after losing the whip when he voted against the controversial downgrade of Roscommon University Hospital which resulted in the loss of its A&E.

He was re-elected as an Independent TD and regularly topped the poll in his constituency. Mr Naughten has been a fierce advocate for improved healthcare services in rural areas.

Recently, he highlighted the A&E crisis at Portiuncula Hospital during Leaders’ Questions in the Dail as he described the ordeal a local OAP, Mary Hughes (76), suffered prior to her death.

Mrs Hughes was forced to move from a bed in Roscommon Hospital to a trolley in Portiuncula after suffering a seizure and died after waiting more than seven hours for a bed before being admitted to a ward.

Deputy Naughten urged the expedition of plans for a new emergency department and additional bed capacity at Portiuncula and has also campaigned for restoration of services at Roscommon Hospital.

Mr Naughten thanked the people of counties Longford, Leitrim, Galway and Roscommon who he served throughout his Dail career.

Denis Naughten

"I want to particularly thank the many people who canvassed for me over the years, some of whom had previously canvassed for my later father Liam," he said.

"I want to sincerely thank all the staff who have worked with me over the years, and I want to particularly mention Deirdre Concannon and Jill Mellor and also my family for their support over those years, which at times were very difficult and challenging," he added.

Mr Naughten said he entered politics at a young age in "difficult circumstances" and it was always his "intention to turn my hand to something outside politics".

"The time has now come for that to happen and to provide an opportunity for others to represent the people of this area in Dáil Éireann," he said.

"I provided support to the Government as an Independent TD at a time when political stability was required, representing my country at international level as minister, furthering our collective national ambition towards a lower carbon society by imaginative and progressive policies on behalf of all our people.

"Since my initial election I have fought tirelessly for the improvement and delivery of our health services at both local and national level.

"Whilst protecting our local services was a condition of my support for the Government, the establishment of an all-party Committee on Health - which produced the first Sláintecare report, and which was the genesis of our current pathway - I believe will ultimately prove to be a key turning point in the delivery of a proper and responsive healthcare system in Ireland.

"My achievement in ensuring the delivery of fibre optic broadband to every home in Ireland, something that I had worked on for over 15 years, is something that I regard as a significant step in improving access to the people of all local communities in Ireland that I was honoured to represent and serve," he added.

Mr Naughten will continue to serve as a TD until the next election/

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar las night paid tribute to Mr Naughten “for the enormous contribution he has made to politics nationally, and to his native county”.

“Politics is full of ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments. It’s what you achieve along the way that matters most,” he said.

“I am absolutely convinced that the National Broadband Plan would not be a reality today were it not for Naughten’s work on it as minister.

“He also played a crucial role in ensuring that Athlone was designated a growth centre in Project Ireland 2040, helping to secure more jobs and investment for the town as well as the development of TU Shannon.”

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos