Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa is retiring from frontline politics next month, the party has revealed.
After 30 years serving as a TD and in Europe, the 71-year-old Dublin representative is to retire from the Strasbourg parliament. Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore described him as an inspiration and a great campaigning politician.
"Proinsias has an outstanding record in public life going back 30 years. He has been a great friend and colleague, and on a personal level, was a real inspiration to me when I was first elected as a TD," Mr Gilmore said.
"His reputation among his colleagues and friends, and indeed even among his adversaries in the European Parliament, is that of a passionate, hard-working and dedicated representative of Ireland.
"Proinsias will be sorely missed by his colleagues both here in Ireland and in the European Parliament, and while I hope and trust that he will enjoy his retirement, I also hope that he will not be a stranger, and that as a party, we will be able to lean on his vast experience and expertise from time to time."
Mr De Rossa said he hoped to use his retirement to continue to push for alternative responses to Europe-wide austerity economics, the deepening of EU democracy and the recognition of a Palestinian state.
After 25 years as a local activist, he served as a TD for Finglas and Ballymun from 1982. He contested four elections before securing a seat and first went to Europe between 1989 and 1992.
He was Minister for Social Welfare between 1994 and 1997 in the Rainbow Coalition before securing a seat for a second time in European elections in 1999.
"My work as a public representative for 30 years, and before that my 25 years as a grassroots political activist, has always been motivated by a desire to change society for the better," he said.
"I have dedicated all my energies to the pursuit of peace and the elimination of poverty and inequality through peaceful change, and the deepening of democracy."