Future work commitments have prompted Cllr. Tony O’Donnell’s decision to step down at the local elections next year.
Speaking in the aftermath of his announcement, he pointed out that only four to five Kildare County Councillors work in the private sector, which makes it hard to get to meetings during office hours. He said he had argued on a number of occasions that meetings could be held out of hours.
“If you add up all the statutory meetings held every year, they would add up to the entire average PAYE’s holiday entitlements for the year. Luckily, I was able to be flexible but in the future, that won’t be the case with a number of new opportunities coming up, which could involve me relocating for a period of six months or so,” he said.
He pointed out that in order to have more diversity in its representation, this is something the council may have to look at down the line.
The Fine Gael Kildare area councillor, who is head of research and development for a large IT company, made the shock announcement at the Friday, March 8 Fine Gael constituency AGM. In a statement issued last Thursday, March 14, he said: “I am in the very fortunate position that I have a successful professional career outside of politics. My career has now reached a level of significant responsibility, and it has the potential for further growth in the years to come; it also has the potential to generate significant employment and inward investment.
“I have never been somebody who wants to participate to make up the numbers or to give less than 100%. In the coming years, my expanding responsibilities would make it impossible to give the level of commitment I would want to give to serving the people of Kildare, and so I must take the difficult decision to focus my energies fully on my work.”
He said he would continue to serve on the Council until his term is up, and he would work with and for the party into the future in whatever capacity he could.
With selection conventions for the local elections due to take place in the Autumn, this gives Fine Gael time to plan for his replacement.
“Obviously in 2009 Mark Stafford very narrowly missed out in getting a seat. If he was to run again, he would have an excellent platform to build on from Rathangan,” said Cllr. O’Donnell.
Looking into the future, he said he was glad his professional work would also allow him to work with the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation, the universities and professional bodies.
“This will allow me to continue working for jobs and investment in Ireland,“ he added.
Cllr. O’Donnell, thanked everyone for their support during the past nine years as he served as a member of Kildare South Fine Gael and most recently on Kildare County Council.