Ex-SF man Christy planning to take on Mary Lou for seat
FORMER Sinn Fein councillor Christy Burke wants to topple the party's vice-president Mary Lou McDonald in the General Election.
The long-serving activist is set to run in Dublin Central which his old party has targeted as a key seat to win.
The councillor quit Sinn Fein after winning his seat on Dublin City Council in the 2009 local elections, claiming the party had lost its relevance.
And he has no qualms about the fact that his candidacy is now set to make the election battle extra difficult for his former colleague.
"Everybody has the right to enter. I'm not worried about who I'm going up against and I wish everyone the best," he told the Herald.
The constituency has a long history of elected independent TDs and the competition is set to be intense following the resignation of ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
"I going to leave it to the people to speak as I have done for the 25 years I have served as a councillor.
"This election provides a real opportunity to remove the status quo of political parties. I will go out and do my best and if I'm returned I will speak for the people who put me there," he said.
"It will be tight -- we have Fianna Fail, Labour, Sinn Fein, Fine Gael and five independents contesting it. It will be like the Battle of the Somme."
And while Mr Burke says he "can't be confident", he told the Herald that anything is possible because "elections are very peculiar, just like the weather".
"I've no hidden agenda, I don't have to tow the political party line.
"I've been around long enough and I'll be going out there with honesty, decency and integrity. I hope people will put their trust in me and I'm going to go for it."
The constituency is home to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who will not be contesting this election, as well as Maureen O'Sullivan (Ind), Cyprian Brady (FF) and Joe Costello (Lab).
Mr Burke said he made his decision to stand for the General Election a while ago after holding a series of meetings with his supporters. He has been on an electoral footing for some time now, canvassing in the area on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
"It will be different this time. I understand now that if you're running as an Independent, you have to do everything yourself. You don't have the political party or personnel behind you. You have to do your own posters, leaflets, manifestos and registration.
"We have a very tight budget. I was at the printers today about posters, cards and leaflets and it will cost between five and seven thousand euro. You have to raise that and raise it we will."
A number of fundraising events will be held to help raise these funds.
Mr Burke told the Herald that if he gets into Dail Eireann, he has a number of priorities.
"My first priority would be to look for a date when the bankers who crippled this country will be prosecuted," he said.
His second would be to gather with other independents and revisit the IMF/EU bailout and its terms.
Finally, he would like to get young apprentices employment in infrastructural projects, something he believes possible if the "political will is there".