Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar will visit Donegal tomorrow (Fri) after former minister Joe McHugh announced he intends to step down from politics.
The party have now been left with a major void in the county as Sinn Fein threaten to take three seats at the next election whenever it happens.
Mr Varadkar said he plans to visit the county to pay tribute to his colleague locally and to boost morale in the local organisation.
He will attend the Fine Gael AGM but the Tánaiste’s trip is officially part of his constituency tour schedule
The visit had been arranged months ago,
The Tanaiste paid tribute to Deputy McHugh for his service to Fine Gael and to Donegal over the years.
“Joe is one of the most compassionate and kindest people in a profession that is often far from kind,” the Tánaiste said.
“By making his plans known early, the party will be able to put in place a succession plan to ensure that we hold our seat in Donegal.”
A candidate will be selected next year once the Constituencies Boundary Commission has reported.
However, Sinn Féin already has two seats in the five-seat constituency and could conceivably win a third.
Mr McHugh said he had reached his decision “after a significant period of reflection and following much consideration”.
He is married to another former Fine Gael TD, ex-Laois-Offaly Deputy Olwyn Enright.
“The reason for this is a simple one. I have three children and, as they grow older, I want to be around more and available to them,” Mr McHugh said.
“Politics is a 24/7 job that demands absolute commitment. I have given politics everything I could throughout my career and it has been my greatest honour to serve as a TD representing the people of Donegal in Dáil Éireann.”