Much respected councillor a rare Sinn Fein beast
Published 10/06/2009 | 00:00
SINN Fein wasted no time in boasting that its longest-serving councillor, Christy Burke, would run for them in the Dublin Central by-election.
But behind the scenes, they had selected Mr Burke only because their golden girl, Mary Lou McDonald, was unable to run -- the Euro elections were to be held on the same day.
In the end, the party has ended up with egg all over its face.
Ms McDonald was a total flop in the European elections and now Mr Burke (60) has walked away in disgust with a prized Dublin city council seat.
Mr Burke was a rare Sinn Fein beast, in that he had the respect of voters beyond the hardline Republican heartland from which he came.
And there is little doubt he has earned the seat himself.
Elected to Dublin City Council for the first time in 1985, he, along with the late Tony Gregory, was one of the first elected representatives to highlight Dublin's drug problem, particularly heroin.
Mr Burke, a father of five, has been a councillor in the north inner city since 1999, after he moved to the Hardwicke Street flats and Ballybough. He joined Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at peace talks in the late 1990s and was an advocate of the IRA ceasefires.
He was released from prison in the early 1980s after being jailed for IRA membership.
He was in Dublin's Mountjoy in 1973 at the time of the escape by helicopter of three IRA terrorists, a day he yesterday said was a "highlight" of his life.
In 1986 he and Mr Gregory were jailed for 14 days in Mountjoy for protesting on behalf of the Moore Street traders.
He ran for the Dail a total of seven times in Dublin Central but was never successful.