Barely two weeks after he was nominated to stand as Fianna Fáil’s North West candidate for the European elections, MEP Seán Ó Neachtain made the surprise announcement on Monday that he would not run again.
Mr Ó Neachtain said his decision was taken on health grounds and his decision has prompted tributes from both colleagues and opponents.
An Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he “fully understands and respects the decision” taken by Mr Ó Neachtain and he praised the Connemara man as “an excellent member of the European Parliament”.
“Over the past seven years he has represented the interests and concerns of both his constituents and his country with distinction within the European Parliament,” the Taoiseach said. “He is regarded in Europe as a highly effective legislator and is to the forefront at all times in Europe in promoting cultural, linguistic, and national diversities.”
The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív said Mr Ó Neachtain “has given great service” as a member of the European Parliament.
“Seán Ó Neachtain has been involved in politics for many years since he was first elected in the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections in 1979,” said Minister Ó Cuív. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all his work. I wish him every success in finishing his term in the Parliament and I am certain that in one way or another, he will continue his involvement in politics in the future.”
Sinn Féin’s North West EU candidate councillor Pàdraig MacLochlainn has extended his “best wishes to Seán Ó Neachtain for the future”.
“He struck me as a thoroughly decent man and on behalf of the Sinn Féin party I would like to wish Seán a speedy recovery,” he said. “I appreciate the demands and pressures on public representatives and I can fully understand why Seán has made what must have been a very difficult decision. I hope he can now look forward to a long and healthy retirement with his extended family.”