Former pop star among candidates Fine Gael is lining up to replace quitting TDs

Former Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny with Councillor Sinéad Sheppard, who is being hotly tipped to run in Cork East. Photo: Martin Nolan

Hugh O'Connell

Fine Gael is lining up a former pop star to run for the Dáil as the party searches for new candidates to replace TDs who are not standing in the next general election.

Sinéad Sheppard, a former member of the pop band Six, has been a Fine Gael councillor in Cobh, Co Cork, since 2009 and is now being lined up to run in Cork East after sitting TD David Stanton announced his retirement.

Ms Sheppard runs dancing schools in Cork having risen to fame in the early 2000s in the RTÉ reality show Popstars where she was selected to become a member of pop band Six.

The mum of three told the Irish Independent she is “definitely” considering putting her name forward and she was “passionate about needing more women and more young mums in politics” – but added that she needs to discuss her political future with her family.

“I am flattered that my name is being mentioned but I have not made that decision yet,” she said.

On her former career as a pop star, Ms Sheppard said: “It was a huge part of my life and gave me a platform, but I did that world for two and a half years, whereas I am in the political arena almost 15 years.”

Elsewhere, Fine Gael is likely to run two candidates in Dublin Bay South where it lost a Dáil seat following Eoghan Murphy’s resignation two years ago.

Councillor James Geoghegan, who unsuccessfully contested the 2021 by-election, will run and is likely to be joined by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Emma Blain.

In Carlow-Kilkenny, where sitting TD John Paul Phelan is standing down, party HQ hopes former TD Pat Deering, who is Carlow-based, will run again.

Mr Deering said he was giving it “serious consideration”. Cllr David Fitzgerald is tipped to run in the Kilkenny end of the constituency.

In Cork North West, where sitting TD Michael Creed is stepping down, two potential candidates are local councillors Eileen Lynch, who is based in Macroom, and John Paul O’Shea, who is based in Kanturk.

In Kerry, where sitting TD Brendan Griffin has also confirmed he is not standing at the next general election, party headquarters is thought to favour running Listowel-based county councillor and solicitor Aoife Thornton.

It is unclear, however, who Fine Gael will run in Donegal where former education minister Joe McHugh is standing down.