COUNTY Councillor Sinead Sheppard has joined the race to replace Dara Murphy as Fine Gael’s Cork North Central TD.
Nominations for the party’s June 18 selection convention closed last week, with five people running.
Ms Sheppard was a surprise nominee, alongside city councillor Joe Kavanagh, and Donoughmore-based party member John Kelleher.
2016 candidate Julie O’Leary and Senator Colm Burke, who both announced their intentions well out, were also nominated.
Although the details of how many candidates will be selected is not yet known, Fine Gael has always run at least two candidates, and always held at least one seat.
Ms O’Leary and Mr Burke are widely seen as the front-runners.
Ms O’Leary, a barrister, had a strong finish in the 2016 election as Mr Murphy’s running mate, with her transfers electing him on the last count. Mr Burke has served as a senator for seven years and was previously an MEP and city councillor, including a term as Lord Mayor in 2003/2004. However, Mr Burke said that “nothing would surprise him” at the selection convention, having been denied the chance to run for the party in the past.
He had sought a nomination in 2016 but said he was denied before Ms O’Leary was later added to the ticket.
“Nothing at a convention would surprise me, but I know the ball has never been hopped in my direction. I’ve had enough knocks in politics to know you have to get up and dust yourself off and drive on,” he said.
Although Ms Sheppard, a dance teacher, serves on the county council, her Cobh electoral area covers much of the eastern side of Cork North Central, including Glanmire.
She took the fourth of six seats in 2014, and previously served on Cobh Town Council.
Mr Kelleher, from Donoughmore, will be approaching the convention from the opposite side — the rural hinterland to the north-west of the city.
Mr Kavanagh, a former deputy Lord Mayor, was co-opted onto Cork City Council in 2011 when Dara Murphy was elected to the Dáil and re-elected in 2014. Based in Mayfield, he could carry much of the same urban base that supported Mr Murphy.