The Labour Party in Cork appeared in disarray last night amid growing indications that Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch may not contest the general election next year.
Ms Lynch missed the deadline yesterday to seek a Labour Party nomination for her constituency of Cork North Central.
Not a single Labour candidate had emerged by the noon deadline, despite the fact that Ms Lynch has repeatedly rejected rumours that she is to retire from parliamentary politics.
While her name can be added to the ticket at the constituency convention next Thursday, there was widespread confusion last night among leading party supporters about whether Ms Lynch will run or not.
“Kathleen Lynch has made no final decision as to whether she will put herself forward as a candidate in the next general election,” a Labour Party spokesman said last evening.
There are four seats in the constituency and, if she does run, Ms Lynch will come under considerable pressure to hold her seat from both Sinn Féin and the Anti-Austerity Alliance. The four TDs for the constituency are currently Ms Lynch, Fine Gael Junior Minister Dara Murphy, Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher.
If she decides to retire and there is no Labour candidate, that will leave the field open to left-wing Independent candidate Mick Barry to take a seat in the mostly working-class constituency. It could also encourage Sinn Féin to field a second candidate in the constituency, alongside Mr O’Brien.
In July, Labour Party Senator John Gilroy stepped aside from the Cork North Central selection convention in support of Ms Lynch. “The most important thing is that we hold on to the seat and a minister is best placed to do that,” he said. “I am not ruling out running for the Labour Party again, but for now I will be putting all my efforts into supporting Kathleen Lynch and making sure we retain the seat.”
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