Mitchell to exit but will not leave stage

by Aisling Kennedy

FINE Gael TD Olivia Mitchell announced her retirement from politics this week in a move that will leave an opening for her seat in the next General Election.
Deputy Mitchell spoke to The Gazette this week and said that despite the fact that she is retiring, she will remain involved in politics in some form or another.
“I’ll certainly be canvassing with the new candidate, whoever that may be, in the upcoming General Election. I want to remain active – I couldn’t imagine not being involved in politics, particularly in my constituency.”
Mitchell, aged 68, was first elected to the Dail in 1997 and received the highest vote of any female candidate in the 2011 General Election.
She has worked as a public representative for 30 years, including 18 consecutive years in the Dail.
Deputy Mitchell said that she thought about her decision to step down for a while.
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the energy I used to have. I like to give everything 100% when I do something, and I just feel that while the constituency is changing from a five-seater to a three-seater, with the new division of Dublin South to Dublin Rathdown, now is the time to go.
“The fact that there are potential TDs in the constituency made my decision a little bit easier, and I think that we have the ability to ensure that we keep our seats so that there will always be a strong Fine Gael presence in the Dail from our constituency,” she said.
With her impending retirement looming, Deputy Mitchell is contemplating what she will do with her free time.
She said: “I suppose that’s my worry, because I know I’ll miss this. I’ll miss always having something to do and always having issues to deal with in the locality.
“I know my family are worried, and saying: ‘What on earth is mum going to do when she doesn’t have too much to do?’
“I have six grandchildren, so I’m planning on spending more time with them. But it’s time to go, and I’m happy with my decision. I’m sure there’s a life outside politics – everybody says there is, so I’m sure there is.”
Deputy Mitchell added that she will “continue working to represent the people of Dublin South and to secure the national recovery right up to the dissolution of the 31st Dail”.
She did not reveal, however, who she will pledge her support to in the upcoming Fine Gael selection convention on October 2, but speculation is rife that it will be Cllr Neale Richmond, as he previously served as her parliamentary assistant for four years.

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