Labour’s Kathleen Lynch well aware she’s in a dogfight to retain her seat

Kathleen Lynch hears the views of Danny Burns, Roche's Buildings, while out canvassing. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Minister has her supporters but concedes she will face a battle for the fourth seat in Cork North Central, writes Catherine Shanahan

FIERY confrontations, family feuds, more boos than a pantomime, exes at war — vying with Jeremy Kyle for voters’ affections all featured in a morning’s canvass on the northside of Cork city for Labour candidate Kathleen Lynch.

Paul Creighton, canvassing on behalf of the the minister with special responsibility for primary care, social care (disabilities and older people), and mental health, blamed the closed front doors on the talk-show host. “It’s all Jeremy Kyle’s fault,” he said.

Indeed, Kyle and the filthy weather combined to keep householders indoors. Those who did venture out were largely courteous, but then, Farranree is Lynch’s heartland, her homeplace on St Brendan’s Rd. Former neighbour Charlie O’Callaghan said she would get four votes from his household.

“You can be sure she’ll get all our number ones, myself, my two sons, and my daughter,” he said.

As if to remind him that there were other options, the media-free Sinn Féin campaign tour bus trundled past, bearing giant wraparound images of party leader Gerry Adams and election hopeful Jonathan O’Brien, the one sure seat in Cork North Central, according to those in the know. Carmel McKenzie, of Popham’s Rd, is an O’Brien supporter and she wasn’t shy about telling Lynch why.

Kathleen Lynch out canvassing. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Kathleen Lynch out canvassing. Picture: Jim Coughlan

For more election news, analysis and general banter join us HERE

“You didn’t keep your promises. Fine Gael and Labour had their chance and we didn’t see any improvement. You’re talking about creating jobs, but what kind of jobs are you talking about? Zero-hour contracts? Low paid jobs?”

When Lynch mentions job creation at the nearby Apple plant, Carmel retorts: “Three-month contracts? That’s what Apple offers.”

Still an’ all, better the devil you know, so Kathleen will get a vote, just not her number one.

Lynch’s canvassers do a good job of talking her up. Mary Buckley was her constituency secretary for 15 years and has nothing but praise. Canvasser John Maher from Ballyvolane has arrived in his Labour-red Coca-Cola van and jokes about a-Coke-for-a-vote. Why does he support Lynch? “She’s delivered,” he says, mentioning “free GP care for the under-sixes [and] €35m ringfenced for mental health”.

John Kelleher, former city councillor and one of the casualties of the Labour annihilation during the last local elections, describes Lynch as “passionate, honest, and sincere”. He says he is “a little bit nervous” for her, before adding “but I’m confident she can hold her seat”.

Kathleen Lynch has a kiss for Michael McGee, Popham’s Rd, during her canvass in Cork North Central. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Kathleen Lynch has a kiss for Michael McGee, Popham’s Rd, during her canvass in Cork North Central. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Lynch, herself, is not quite so confident. She says O’Brien and Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher are assured of seats and, if things go well for Fine Gael, Dara Murphy will take the third seat of four. The fourth, she concedes, is likely to be a dogfight between Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit candidate Mick Barry, Sinn Féin’s second candidate Thomas Gould, and herself.

What does she feel she has to offer? What were her greatest achievements during the Government’s term? She saw the turning of the sod on the new Central Mental Hospital and is delighted this happened on her watch — just. She got to see the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill signed into law, which will allow people with limited decision-making capacity to better manage their personal, property, and financial affairs.

If Labour is returned and she retains her brief, she has big plans for mothers and babies and is hoping for the national roll out of a perinatal mental health programme to help fill that “huge gaping need to support new mothers”. She also has plans for a dual-diagnosis service to allow those struggling with mental health and addiction problems to be treated, rather than being shunted between two different services, often falling between the cracks.

“It would be a service that deals with both mental health and addiction, with a clinical lead, and nurse practitioners specialising in both areas, and it would operate within the psychiatric services, primary care, and emergency departments,” she says.

Carmel McKenzie tells junior minister Kathleen Lynch ‘you didn’t keep your promises’. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Carmel McKenzie tells junior minister Kathleen Lynch ‘you didn’t keep your promises’. Picture: Jim Coughlan

However, if she fails to win a seat, is there a life outside politics?

“Someone asked me about a year ago what I would do if I retire and I said ‘absolutely nothing’, but that would only last a while,” she says. So what, then? She laughs. “Maybe running a mother-and-baby group.”

Then, it’s back to the canvass, with Paul Creighton declaring “it takes a certain kind of madness to take on a job like this”.

Labour’s Kathleen Lynch well aware she’s in a dogfight to retain her seat

For more election news, analysis and general banter join us HERE

More on this topic

Water charges 'will be collected'; Joan Burton expected to step down as Labour leaderWater charges 'will be collected'; Joan Burton expected to step down as Labour leader

Independent Alliance say FG will have to agree to 'radical proposals' for a govt by ThursdayIndependent Alliance say FG will have to agree to 'radical proposals' for a govt by Thursday

Talks with Independent Alliance could delay govt formation; SF says FF have 'lost credibility'Talks with Independent Alliance could delay govt formation; SF says FF have 'lost credibility'

Leo Varadkar's govt formation comments 'misleading and self-serving', says Michael McGrathLeo Varadkar's govt formation comments 'misleading and self-serving', says Michael McGrath


Lifestyle

In January of 1994, RTÉ reporter Tommie Gorman was given a diagnosis that would change his life.Examine Yourself: Getting cancer made sense of everything for Tommie Gorman

In aid of Cancer Awareness Week, we convinced four of our columnists to bare all for our Examine Yourself campaign.Examine Yourself: Baring all for Cancer Awareness Week

It was an effervescent and often moving turn by an artist with a meaningful claim to the title of world’s most interesting pop star.Ariana Grande's opening night at 3Arena in Dublin proved why she is the world's most interesting pop star

Marian Duggan was in her 20s and could not imagine that her symptoms could be so serious, not even when a tennis-ball-size cyst was removed from her left ovary, says Helen O’Callaghan.Examine Yourself: 'I thought I was too young to have cancer'

More From The Irish Examiner