Cork Senator to quit Fine Gael if not added to party ticket in North Central

Cork Senator to quit Fine Gael if not added to party ticket in North Central
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke. Picture: Richard Mills.

Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke is threatening to quit Fine Gael if he is not added to the party’s general election ticket for Cork North Central.

Mr Burke said that he will "consider his position" in the party if he is not nominated to contest the next general election.

2016 candidate Julie O'Leary has also confirmed her intention to contest a selection convention in the constituency, where Dara Murphy has been a TD since 2011.

Mr Burke said that he had been "blocked" from running for several years and was "not going to take no for an answer" before the next election. He said "I've been kept off the ticket and I will not be kept off the ticket again. If the party won't put me on the ticket, I will have to consider my position," he said.

"I've put in the ground work for the last 20 years, as a councillor, and MEP, and a Senator," he said, adding that the party needs to restore the number of councillors in the constituency, where it has continuously lost votes in recent years.

Before the resignation of Frances Fitgerald last week, Fine Gael had made loose plans to hold the selection convention last Thursday to be prepared for a Christmas election, along with about 20 others around the country. Once the government had been stabilised and the election avoided, the convention was shelved to a later date. Other more straightforward conventions, like Cork South Central's, went ahead, indicating that the party's strategy in Cork North Central is still up in the air.

No date has been set for the convention, although it is likely to be in the new year, and those who have declared for it said that they do not know how many candidates the party intends to run, or any other strategies around gender and geography.

Ms O'Leary said that she was waiting on the details of the strategy and convention, but intends to contest the convention and run again, after being the last candidate eliminated last year, having been added to the ticket just a few weeks before the election.

"I gave it a good lash last year with limited resources, and I haven't been standing still since," she said.

However, she said that the public has no appetite for a general election, and believes the current Dáil will last longer that people expect.

"This government has more important things to be doing, like dealing with Brexit. I think there is a lot more time left in this arrangement than people think," she said.

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