Saturday 17 August 2019

TD Liam is calling it a day after 13 years in national politics

Deputy Twomey at Leinster House last week.
Deputy Twomey at Leinster House last week.
Liam Twomey, right, when he joined the Fine Gael party in 2004, with Paul Kehoe and Enda Kenny.

By Esther Hayden

Deputy Liam Twomey is stepping down from national politics after 13 years.

Forty-eight-year-old Liam said it had been a difficult decision to make but both he and his wife, Liz, had discussed the matter in depth.

He said: 'Last year Liz, my wife, had treatment for breast cancer and after that I realised I needed to make some changes. We have three kids and Liz was running the practice. National politics requires a huge national and local element and commitment. It's not like an ordinary job. It's a huge commitment and I had to make some changes so I decided to pull out of politics to take the pressure off.'

While he was a national politician Liam was also keeping his hand in at the couple's medical practice but freely admits he was really 'just doing enough to keep on the medical register'.

The couple have three children aged between 12 and 14 years. 'The pressure was coming on this year and it was getting harder to keep up the proper commitment needed for national politics so myself and Liz had been discussing me stepping down for the past few weeks and then I decided that the time was right to step down.'

Liam informed Taoiseach Enda Kenny of his decision and it was a decision that disappointed Enda Kenny. 'Obviously I spoke to Enda Kenny about my decision. He was the one who brought me into Fine Gael in 2004 so he was clearly disappointed by my decision.'

Party colleagues Deputy Paul Kehoe and Senator Michael D'Arcy were no doubt surprised by Liam's decision.

'I've a great relationship with Paul and Michael. People were saying that they were popping the champagne corks when they heard the competition is off the field but I've had a good relationship with them. Paul Kehoe was extremely good to me as Chief Whip when Liz was sick.

'I've always enjoyed an excellent relationship with Brendan Howlin too. I've huge regard for him and we work very well together.'

Since Liam's announcement there has been plenty of whispers about who the party will put on the ticket alongside Kehoe and D'Arcy. The selection convention is expected to take place in mid-September and Liam freely admits there is no obvious choice. 'It's hard to say who will succeed me. I think probably the party would like to lean towards a female candidate but I don't know.'

Despite the lack of an obvious successor Liam remains confident that the party can win two seats in Wexford in the forthcoming election.

'I'd say Fine Gael will win two seats. It's all about proper organising and campaigning.'

Liam said that while mistakes have been made throughout the time of this Government he is confident that a Fine Gael Labour government is one that works: 'People are still feeling the hardship of what the country is going through, not just water charges but cuts across the board. People are still feeling that but at the same time they remember that five years ago the country was bankrupt and effectively taken over by the IMF.

'We are still on the road to recovery but I think people realise that Fine Gael and Labour are the best Government to deliver that pathway to recovery. I don't think people want to risk a situation like that being experienced in Greece at the moment.'

Liam said that while he won't be seeking re-election he will be working for the people of Wexford until the election is called. 'I'll be going back to my GP practice once I step down but I won't be giving up politics. I'm giving up getting elected. If a TD was a 40-hour week it would be fine but it's not. I hope to keep up my involvement in politics.'

However, he said he hadn't given any thought to running in the local elections.

'I haven't thought about local politics but I certainly won't be abandoning politics. One thing I always remembered in politics is that being elected is a huge privilege. When 9,000 people say that you're their choice it's not something you take for granted.'

Throughout his tenure Liam said there have been many career highlight and also paid tribute to his staff, who he said he helped 1,000s of people with various problems. Liam himself was very much involved in the policy side of politics and he said seeing free GP care for the under-sixes was definitely a highlight. 'I am also involved with health prevention and health promotion and to see diabetic and asthma care included in the Under 6 scheme is a great step forward. I also wrote legislation myself in relation to living wills. I've also been working with a business group within Fine Gael on tax changes to make doing business earlier and I've also been working with the OCED think tank.'

He is also chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Finance Public Expenditure and Reform which brings a heavy workload particularly in terms of the banking inquiry.

There has been a lot of speculation as to when a general election will be called but Liam feels the current Government will hang on until February. 'I think the election should be in February. I think people need to see the full benefits of five years of stable Government. Mistakes have been made. People are still feeling pain but I think we are over the worst of it.'

When he made his announcement last Friday Liam said: 'It has been a huge honour to represent the people of Wexford throughout my political career and I thank them for their support. A political career is a huge commitment, both for the individual but also for his/her family, and in that respect I wish to express my enormous appreciation to my wife Liz and my children, for all their support throughout my career.

'Last but not least, I wish to thank An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, my party colleagues and the loyal Fine Gael supporters in Wexford who have helped me enormously throughout my career. I wish the Party well and I know that the people of Wexford will be well represented by Fine Gael in the future.'

Wexford People

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