Wallace to step down at election
Former junior minister Mary Wallace has became the latest Fianna Fail figure to announce that she will not stand again in the coming General Election.
The Meath East TD said she was relieved to be bowing out after three decades as a councillor, senator and Dail representative for the area.
"Having laboured extensively over this very difficult decision, I can honestly say that I now feel somewhat relieved," she said.
Ms Wallace said she was proud of her public service and was now looking forward to new challenges and a new chapter in her life.
"I would like to thank all those people who have supported me over the years - we can be proud of what we achieved together," she added. "This is a great community and a great country and I look forward to the future with optimism and confidence."
Taoiseach Brian Cowen paid tribute to Ms Wallace, singling out her junior ministerial roles in forestry, food safety and health promotion as well as equality and disabilities.
"Mary Wallace has had a long and distinguished career in which she has been a very hard-working and productive representative for the people of Meath," he said. "Throughout her time in Leinster House she has been a popular and respected colleague and I want to thank her today for the courtesy and friendship she has always shown me."
Ms Wallace was a member of the Seanad for two years from 1987 before she was first elected to the Dail in 1989.
Billy Cleary, chairman of the Dunshaughlin Fianna Fail Comhairle Ceantair, said he believed Ms Wallace would have been re-elected had she stood again. "However, Mary's reasons for not standing did not include the campaign challenges ahead - challenges that I know she relished," he said.
Ms Wallace is the latest in a line of senior Fianna Fail figures who will stand down at the next election. Defence Minister Tony Killeen, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey and Housing Minister Michael Finneran are among those who have announced they will resign.