Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has announced that he will not be contesting the next General Election.

In a statement, Mr Dempsey thanked the people of Meath for their support over three decades.

Noel Dempsey was born in Trim, Co Meath, one of 12 brothers and will turn 58 in the New Year. He and his wife Bernadette have four children.

The Meath West TD has been a Fianna Fáil deputy for over 20 years.

He has held elected office for more than three decades since winning a seat on Meath County Council in 1977.

A decade later Mr Dempsey was elected to the Dáil in the constituency of Meath - a seat now in Meath West and which he has held since - topping the poll in the last two General Elections.

In 1991 Noel Dempsey was one of those who proposed the motion of no-confidence in then party leader Charles Haughey.

When Albert Reynolds assumed the leadership the following year, he appointed Mr Dempsey government chief whip, and minister of state at the Department of Defence and then at Finance.

Bertie Ahern appointed Mr Dempsey minister for environment in 1997, and he has been in Cabinet since, at Education and Science, Communications, and Marine and Natural Resources.

In 2007, he was appointed to his current post as Minister for Transport.

Following Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern's recent announcement, Noel Dempsey is the second Cabinet minister to declare he will not be contesting the upcoming General Election for Fianna Fáil.

Reacting to Mr Dempsey's decision, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said: 'I want to extend my best wishes to Noel Dempsey today.

'He has had a fantastic career and he has been a hard working and effective Minister in the portfolios that he has held.

'Noel has devoted a huge proportion of his adult life to serving the Fianna Fáil Party, his constituents in Meath and the wider Irish public.

'He has made a huge contribution to Irish politics and he has been a reforming minister who has never allowed vested interests or tough decisions get in the way of doing the right thing.'

Meath East TD Thomas Byrne has also paid tribute to his party colleague.

'Noel Dempsey has been my principal mentor in politics,' Deputy Byrne said.

'I am sad that he is retiring and I wish him all the best for the future. I know that I and the party can depend on him for support and help in the future.'

Labour defers National Conference

The 2011 National Conference of the Labour Party has been deferred.

The event was due to take place at NUI Galway next April, but has been postponed because of the uncertainty about the date of the General Election.