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 Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Julie O’Leary, John Kelleher and Senator Colm Burke who were the four candidates at the Fine Gael Selection Convention for the Cork North Central constituency last night. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Julie O’Leary, John Kelleher and Senator Colm Burke who were the four candidates at the Fine Gael Selection Convention for the Cork North Central constituency last night. Picture: Howard Crowdy
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Colm Burke storms onto the Fine Gael ticket for Cork North Central

SENATOR Colm Burke has been selected by Fine Gael to contest the next general election in Cork North Central.

At a convention, at The Commons Inn last night, he beat three other candidates in a landslide, securing 236 of the 303 votes, and will now seek to defend the seat vacated by Dara Murphy.

However, party members were warned of the constituency becoming “barren waste ground” for Fine Gael by veteran party stalwart and former TD Bernard Allen. Proposing Mr Burke’s candidacy, he said that the party was at risk in Cork North Central, with its support there declining in recent years.

“The situation in Cork North Central, whether we like it or not, is much too serious. Fine Gael is in a tailspin. Fine Gael, in the 90s, had two seats out of five. We were getting the first and second seat — myself and the late lamented Liam Burke. Now we have one seat and we are struggling.

“In the City Council area, where we once had four councillors, we now have one. In the County Council area, where we had two, we have none. There is a whole barren waste ground for Fine Gael in Cork North Central,” he said.

Mr Allen said that Mr Burke has the “honesty, hardwork, and integrity” to win the seat.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Burke said that he wanted to build bridges across the constituency in order to get the party back to a higher standing.

“The last general election, we came in third, behind Sinn Féin. I do not want that to happen in the next general election. The important thing about this constituency is about putting a united team together, to fight back the votes that we lost at the local elections and the general election,” says Mr Burke.

“This is about unifying the party and working towards rebuilding that vote and making sure that we are fighting there, that we are retaining the seat and — if the general election is before the local elections — that we are fighting to win back those four seats,” he said. 

Although an official count was not announced, sources said that Mr Burke had 236 of 303 votes. City councillor Joe Kavanagh had 35, 2016 candidate Julie O’Leary had 27, and former party constituency chairman John Kelleher had four.

County councillor Sineád Sheppard, had received a nomination, but withdrew on the night and was not in attendance.

Party headquarters is expected to add another candidate before the general election.