“I WAS being kept off the ticket in Fine Gael for quite a long time and I felt that I had a contribution to make.”
Despite being a seasoned politician — a councillor, Lord Mayor, an MEP and a Senator — Deputy Colm Burke became a TD for the first time in the 2020 general election.
Pressed on why he was being kept off the ticket, Mr Burke said: “The person has moved off and I dealt with that issue. I still kept on working.”
He used his time in the Seanad wisely over the last number of years, but feels he has much more access to government departments and ministers as a TD.
Now he’s been appointed his party’s spokesperson on health, which is an issue he focused on over the course of his career.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has been “an intense time”.
“This new virus was something that hadn’t happened for decades. It was the first time that this generation has had to deal with a pandemic.
“The thing about the coronavirus is it seems to be changing by the day. We’re working harder than ever before.”
Something Colm Burke is “really disappointed with” is the lack of consultation on the long-running issue of another elective hospital for Cork. It had been touted that an announcement would be made prior to that election in 2020, but it never happened.
He said the South Infirmary Hospital Group and the Mercy Hospital have not been consulted about the new elective hospital.
“It appears to be all done behind closed doors, and I think we need to have a reasoned debate on this issue. It shouldn’t be decided by a few people who believe that they’re experts — we all have a contribution to make.
“We’re now, it looks like, going to be suddenly told one of these days that the site is selected and that’s the end of it.”