Former minister and Labour TD Kathleen Lynch is quitting politics and will not contest the Cork North Central by-election or general election, saying Labour must pass on the torch to survive. Speaking exclusively to the Irish Examiner, Ms Lynch said that despite previously vowing to reclaim the seat she lost in 2016, she now believes her party must focus on newer candidates.
Ms Lynch, who served as junior minister for mental health and disabilities during the Fine Gael-Labour government, between 2011 and 2016, was first elected to the Dáil in a 1994 by-election.
After losing the seat in the 2016 general election, the 66-year-old vowed to win it back, saying, as recently as May 2018: “Yes I will be running again.”
However, speaking to the Irish Examiner, she said that after reconsidering the matter in recent months, she now believes it is time to focus on new candidates.
“Since 2016, I have continued to work with Labour members and supporters to rebuild our party presence,” said Ms Lynch.
However, this is the right time, now, for me to take a step back, and allow a new generation to put their name forward.
Ms Lynch — who has backed Labour councillor John Maher to win a Cork North Central seat — said she will “find it difficult to have a normal life” after politics, joking that she asked a friend in recent days: “Do people go on holidays in June?”
She said that the highlights of her career were free GP care for under-sixes and mental health funding, but said she would like for social class balance to be given the same priority as gender balance. Ms Lynch’s decision to quit frontline politics is likely to be welcomed by grassroots factions of the party, which believe that Labour must look to the next generation.
It also comes just days after the minister of state with responsibility for mental health and older people, Jim Daly, revealed he is also quitting politics, becoming the eighth Fine Gael TD elected in 2016 to not contest the next general election.