Wednesday 20 March 2019

FG candidate Durkan 'can't name streets in Dublin' and 'won't be moving to the city'

‘Real me’: From left is Leo Varadkar, former SDLP leader Mark Durkan and Francis Fitzgerald at the press conference. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
‘Real me’: From left is Leo Varadkar, former SDLP leader Mark Durkan and Francis Fitzgerald at the press conference. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Fine Gael's newest election candidate for the capital couldn't name any streets in a Dublin suburb or stations along the proposed Metro line.

Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan also confirmed he won't be moving to Dublin if he wins a seat in the European Parliament.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney were on hand to unveil Mr Durkan as a running mate for former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald in the upcoming European elections.

Mr Varadkar introduced Mr Durkan praising his involvement in the Good Friday Agreement and saying he'd be a voice for Dublin, the country and Northern Ireland in Europe.

He said Mr Durkan lived in Dublin in the early 1980s, "retained strong links to the city ever since", and knows its challenges.

Mr Durkan recognised he was making a "big ask" of the people of Dublin and said he wanted to be honest about his plans to remain living in the North.

He said he wouldn't pretend he wasn't a Derry person, adding: "I probably won't become a Dub."

He said he wouldn't be supporting Shamrock Rovers over Derry City. Mr Varadkar quipped, "he will be supporting the Dubs after Derry get knocked out", to which Mr Durkan said: "Anybody but Tyrone."

Mr Durkan said Dublin people are "not going to be sold a pup" and they will be right to demand that four MEPs look after their interests. He promised he would do this.

Asked if he could name any stations along the controversial proposed Metrolink line, he admitted he hadn't schooled himself on the "ins and outs" of the route.

He said as a minister in the North he proved he was a quick learner and he shares the ambition for Dublin to get the Metro it deserves.

Mr Durkan was also asked if he could name four streets in the Taoiseach's Dublin West constituency. Another Northern politician, Austin Currie was asked a similar question when he ran there in the 1989 General Election. Mr Currie, who was present yesterday, piped up: "I was only asked for three". Mr Durkan wasn't able to name any streets.

He said: "I'm making no pretence here... I'm standing on the basis of who I am not who I'm pretending to be."

He also insisted people in Dublin care about Brexit and "resent" how its been imposed on people in Northern Ireland.

Ms Fitzgerald was asked about the potential impact her resignation as Tánaiste amid controversy over Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe would have on her chances in the election.

She insisted she was vindicated by the Charleton Tribunal and said: "My record over the years is the lens through which people will judge me, not any particular incident."

Irish Independent

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