Quinn: Resignation 'a bit sooner than I'd have liked'

By Juno McEnroe, Political Reporter

Ruairi Quinn has announced his resignation as Education Minister and as a member of the Cabinet saying that he wants to "clear the path" for the next generation in the Labour party.

Announcing the end to his 40-year political career, the veteran politician also revealed that he will not run in the next general election for a seat in the Dáil, saying the announcement has "come a bit sooner than I'd have liked".

His announcement comes ahead of Cabinet reshuffle which is expected to be discussed by the new Labour party leader and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the coming days.

Speaking on the plinth at Leinster House today, Mr Quinn said that the new leader had an opportunity to create their own future for the party.

He said his official resignation would come after Labour's vote for a new leader on Friday.

He denied that his announcement was to pre-empt being dropped from the Cabinet during the reshuffle.

It was a "considered" decision, he said, adding that he was not a petulant individual.

He also disagreed that there was a “trend towards ageism”, as suggested earlier by his Cabinet colleague Pat Rabbitte during a radio interview.

He said he hoped that planned reforms of the Junior Certificate would go ahead.

Joan Burton, the social protection minister, is expected to be voted in as the new leader of Labour on Friday and appoint new party figures to Cabinet later this month.

The secondary school teacher's union, the ASTI says it's unfortunate that Mr Quinn's period as Education Minister came at a time of unprecedented financial crisis in Ireland.

The union says it regrets the regressive cuts made during his time as Minister but President Sally Maguire says there is no doubt Mr Quinn had a keen interest in education reform.

Meanwhile, the Union of Students in Ireland is critical of his inability to keep his promise not to increase student fees before the last General Election.

However, it says he was one of the few ministers prepared to attend USI congress to take questions and defend his position.

The Communications Minister has paid tribute to his longtime party and Cabinet colleague - but says he has no plans for retirement himself.

There's been much speculation in recent weeks that Pat Rabbitte will be moved out of his Department in next week's reshuffle.

But Minister Rabbitte says he wants to stay in Government for the foreseeable future.

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