Richard Daley's decision to step down as Mayor of Chicago probably brings to an end the era of the Irish big city mayors.

Mayor Daley and his father Richard both ran Chicago with an iron fist and were incredibly successful in terms of winning re-election and the hearts and minds of voters.

Daley turned down a seventh term run however, believing, no doubt, that his recent low opinion poll ratings would not go away through this turbulent anti-incumbent period. He beleived that would leave him a weakened candidate next year.

Like James Michael Curley and Ray Flynn in Boston and Bill O'Dwyer in New York before him, Daley relied on a close knit group of close friends, his very own Irish mafia, to run the city.

He was incredibly successful. He came to power at a time when Chicago seemed ungovernable after Harold Washington, the first Black mayor died in office.

Daley proved the critics wrong and will go out with a stellar reputation, whatever the flow of recent events.

His great regret will be not landing the Olympic Games which looked like a real possibility when President Obama got behind the bid.

He was never particularly Irish, paying lip service to his Waterford roots, but rarely becoming identified with his heritage.

Next up Chicago's first Jewish mayor? Rahm Emannuel is said to be in the frame and today's decision will force his hand on his oft-expressed wish to run Chicago.