Sinn Fein’s Arthur Morgan, the party’s spokesman on finance, will not contest the next general election. The Louth deputy confirmed this week he wanted to return to his family business, after serving two terms.
Mr Morgan believes he is leaving the Sinn Fein party in Louth in its healthiest ever state as he prepares to stand down as a TD at the next election.
When he first ran in the General Election in 1987, the Omeath man received 6 percent of the vote. That increased to 15 percent in his last election 20 years later in a political career that would see him pip Labour’s Michael Bell to a Dail seat in 2002.
The party’s popularity has also increased dramatically at a local level during that period with Sinn Fein currently having six representatives on Louth County Council and numerous more on the various town and borough councils throughout the county.
Despite his decision to stand down at the next election, he firmly believes that the party has the support and personnel to retain their seat in the constituency.
“In relation to my own support it has steadily increased over the years and I have to thank people for that. There is a good solid base there to continue the good stuff that Sinn Fein are all about.
“There are still four places up for grabs at the next election and with Seamus Kirk automatically returned in the fifth seat that’s a very big vote puller off the field.
“I think Sinn Fein is a serious national player now. When I was first elected in 1999 we had one seat on the county council, now we have six. There’s a huge solid base building there that makes it a lot easier for me to depart the scene.
“We have some great politicians and the hallmark of them is that they’re very young.”
Mr Morgan said despite his decision not to seek re-election, he would forever be loyal to the party and would lend his expertise where he could.
“I’ll be a member of Sinn Fein all my life and I’ll always aspire to the ideals of the party but I’ll be off the big stage,” he said.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has spoken of his “huge admiration and respect” for his “friend and comrade” Arthur Morgan.
Mr Adams said: “On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to express my deepest thanks to Arthur and his wife Marion. Being a public representative requires enormous stamina and dedication. It impinges on all aspects of a person’s life and their family and it takes great commitment.”
The Sinn Féin President said: “I first met Arthur in Long Kesh in 1970s. He has been a committed republican for many years and has given impeccable service to Sinn Féin and to the people of County Louth, first as a Councillor and then as a TD.
“Arthur played a key role in developing and delivering Sinn Féin’s peace strategy.
“In recent years he has led Sinn Féin’s economic team in devising and implementing the party’s economic policy platform. He has been a vigorous opponent of the consensus for cuts argument being promoted by the government coalition and Fine Gael and Labour.
“On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to express my deepest thanks to Arthur and his wife Marion.”