Kathleen Lynch selected to run in Cork North Central for Labour

Minister says she will stand on party’s record in Government

Minister of State at the Dept of Health Kathleen Lynch has been selected as the Labour Party candidate in Cork North Central in the forthcoming general election, and she has admitted that she faces a major challenge to retain her seat.

Ms Lynch (62) was the sole nominee to run for the party in the four-seat constituency where, with Labour running on single figures in the polls, she will face a stiff challenge to hang on to her seat with Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Anti-Austerity Alliance all bidding to hold or win seats.

“What if I don’t get elected? That is a choice for the people. I am very philosophical about these things. I lost my seat in 1997. Two years later, my mother died. There was no comparison. There are things in life that affect you more deeply than others,” she told Cork’s 96FM.

“In the fact I don’t get elected, I would be disappointed – of course I would. I think I have done a reasonably good job. But would it be the end of the world for me? I don’t think so. I have very good mental health. I know what is important. I know what is essential.

“ I would have to tell you that if the people decide they don’t want to elect me to be their representative, maybe it is because they will pick someone better?” said Ms Lynch who has represented Cork North Central for 16 years.

Speaking after her selection, Ms Lynch said that she would be standing in the forthcoming election on the record of the Labour Party and the central role that it has played in Government in bringing Ireland back from "the brink of economic disaster to the fastest growing economy in Europe".

And, in a swipe at Fianna Fáil, the Anti-Austerity Alliance and Sinn Féin, Ms Lynch said the electorate of Cork North Central have a very clear choice when it comes to the general election and she urged them to remember the role that Labour has played in restoring Ireland’s economic fortunes.

“They can vote for candidates for one of the parties that got us into this mess in the first place; they can vote for professional protesters who are against everything and in favour of nothing; they can vote for a party that claims to be against austerity down here, but want to close down small schools in the North.

“But I think that what people will actually do is vote in a government that they know can continue to deliver on political stability and economic recovery in the years ahead, and I believe that Labour should be at the heart of that government.”

Earlier, she played down media speculation about the fact that she had failed to submit her name in time to the Labour Party HQ for the convention and said that she had wanted to have discussions with the party’s leadership about the forthcoming budget.

“It (the selection convention) is uncontested and that is why I was a bit thrown by the publicity around the nomination thing. I knew it was uncontested because I had checked. I did need to ensure that, with the upcoming budget, we (Labour officials) were all on the one page.”

“Mental health was one of the priority areas for me. It always has been because of my experiences as a teenager with a very good friend of mine – who I hope is still a friend of mine today – not to mention my concerns about older people and people with disabilities.

"Both Joan Burton and Minister Brendan Howlin were surprised when I asked their opinion. They both looked at me and said of course we are on the one page. Yes, it (protecting the vulnerable) is part of what the Labour Party is about.

“It is about building up the (health) infrastructure because it had been neglected for so many years. The expectations of people are different now. In as far as possible – I don’t believe it is always possible – we should do our best to meet those expectations.”

But Ms Lynch refused to discuss whether Labour and Fine Gael would still be in coalition together after the next election and she said that in politics, as in life, she believe taking one step at a time and the first challenge for her was getting re-elected to represent the people of Cork North Central.

“Whether or not we (Labour) will be in a position to form part of Government will be another step. It all happens very quickly after the election. In the event we do get elected – and that is a big ‘if’ – what happens after that will be decided after that.”