Joe Healy, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) President, has paid tribute to Michael Noonan, following the announcement of his intention to step down as Minister for Finance.

Healy recognised the considerable support Minister Noonan has given to the agriculture sector throughout his political career, noting: “During his time as Finance Minister, he displayed a strong grasp of our issues and was open to the taxation measures that we brought forward during pre-budget discussions.

It was always clear that Minister Noonan recognised the importance of agriculture and farming to the Irish economy, and was committed to supporting the sector and ensuring its growth.

“His initiation of an agri-taxation review was very important for Irish farmers, resulting in a number of measures which will sustain expansion in the agriculture sector into the future,” Healy said.

Noonan made the announcement yesterday, Thursday, May 18, that he will not be contesting the next general election, and that the time is right for a new Finance Minister.

Noonan also stated that he does not wish to be considered for a cabinet position by the successor of outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Noonan said: “I have been honoured to serve as Minister for Finance since March 2011 and have introduced six annual budgets and one supplementary budget.

I believe now is a good time for a new Finance Minister to take up office. Ireland is the fastest-growing economy in Europe, the budget is almost balanced and we are on the cusp of full employment.

Noonan has been a TD for Limerick since 1981 and served as leader of Fine Gael from 2001 to 2002. As well as serving as Minister for Finance, Noonan has held the offices of Minister for Justice, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Trade, and Minister for Energy.

The outgoing minister said that he will continue in his role until a successor is appointed, which is likely to happen some time next month.