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'The most memorable thing about jail? Helping IRA members escape on a helicopter'

Dublin’s Lord Mayor recalls his time in prison, and shares his thoughts on the Queen.
Jan 31st 2015, 7:00 AM 22,038 86
I was an IRA volunteer. I done jail. I was on the run.

LORD MAYOR CHRISTY Burke plans to write a book when his time as first citizen of Dublin ends this summer.

He’s been a councillor in the city for 30 years, an anti-drugs and homelessness campaigner, and an active Republican – for which he served time in prison in the 1970s.

In 1986, he was jailed again – this time alongside Independent TD Tony Gregory - for campaigning on behalf of Moore Street traders.

In short: it’ll be a good read.

New Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Burke left Sinn Féin three days after being re-elected in the 2009 local elections.

I still have a great relationship with all of the Sinn Féin group … I’m very friendly with Gerry Adams, I speak to Mary Lou [McDonald]. I don’t have any beef. I don’t hold any grudges. I’ve no regrets.

In an interview with this week, Burke recalled the “bit of a hell” that was his time in prison – helicopter escapes and all:

Source: Video

Video: Michelle Hennessy/

Last year, Burke urged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to consider not placing any members of the royal family in the front row or strategic positions during ceremonies to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

He said such a move might unfairly deflect attention away from those who fought and died for Irish independence, and their descendants.

SINN FEIN DEMOS AGAINST PRINCESS ANNE ROYAL FAMILY BRITISH ROYALITY VISITS IRELAND Burke (right) and current Deputy Lord Mayor, Sinn Féin’s Larry O’Toole, protest Princess Anne opening the British Embassy in Dublin (1996). Source: Photocall Ireland

Here Burke shares his thoughts on the Queen and why he “wouldn’t be jumping over the table” to meet her:

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Source: Video

Video: Michelle Hennessy/


During his tenure, Burke has been very vocal about the growing homelessness problem in Dublin, and was a driving force behind the emergency summit last December. He is passionate about the issue and said he will be keeping his “foot on the pedal” to ensure Government promises are delivered on.

Another personal interest he has pursued while in office is that of a Luke Kelly statue, something he hopes will be a reality in the capital before his term ends in June.

So, as a proud Dubliner, what are some of his favourite things about the capital? And, most importantly, which is better: Northside or Southside?

Source: Video

Video: Michelle Hennessy/

See more from our Christy Burke interview:

“The addiction of politics is in me… but there’s always part of me saying: ‘Do you want it?’”

‘Worse now than the heroin epidemic of the 80s’ – Christy Burke on drugs in Dublin

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Órla Ryan


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