Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, has announced that he plans to step down at the next General Elections, set to take place in early 2011.

In a statement issued on Monday morning, Mr Ahern revealed that during the last 18 months he had been diagnosed with a painful medical condition that means he needs to take heavy medication.

His medical advisors have told him to change his pace of life to cope with his new medical regimen. He said that he came to this decision with his family.

Mr Ahern has acted as a public representative for the last 32 years. He became a TD in 1987 and have been a Minister since 1997.

The Prime Minster, Brian Cowen, was informed of his decision in October. He also informed his Cabinet colleagues and local party in County Louth. He thanked the people of Louth for their support over the past three decades. 

Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, wished Mr Ahern well on his retirement as he moves to take his Louth seat. Adams siad Mr Aherns colleagues in Government should join him a General Election should be held immediately.

Also, on Monday, Fianna Fail TD, Rory O'Hanlon announced that he would not run in the next General Election. The Deputy from Cavan-Monaghan is a former parliament chairperson. He was first elected to parliament in 1977.