Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer has insisted he has no intention of being parachuted into the Cork north central constituency at the request of party headquarters, despite ongoing rumours about the plan.
Mr Buttimer told the Irish Examiner he is focussed solely on fighting to win back the Cork South Central Dáil seat he lost in the 2016 general election.
He denied he has been contacted by party officials about a possible switch to the north of the city.
Current Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy’s confirmed last month that he will not seek re-election. A number of senior Fine Gael sources said Mr Buttimer may be encouraged to move across the River Lee and contest the soon-to-be empty seat.
The suggestion was based on the fact the four Cork South Central seats are currently occupied by Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath and Sinn Féin justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire — meaning it may be difficult for Mr Buttimer to contest.
In addition, due to recent boundary changes, two-thirds of Mr Buttimer’s Bishopstown base is now in Cork North Central, while his high national profile would be a benefit in any constituency race.
While the June 18 Cork North Central selection convention nominations deadline closed last Friday without Mr Buttimer’s name being added, several senior sources have suggested the senator could still be parachuted in at a later date.
However, asked about the rumours yesterday, Mr Buttimer said he has no intention of leaving Cork South Central.
Currently, five people will contest the Cork North Central Fine Gael selection convention on June 18.
They include senator Colm Burke, 2016 candidate Julie O’Leary, Cobh councillor Sinead Sheppard, former constituency party chair John Kelleher and city councillor Joe Kavanagh.
It is understood Fianna Fáil is likely to run sitting councillor Dr John Sheehan as a running mate for jobs spokesperson Billy Kelleher, while Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien is likely to be paired with the daughter of Sinn Féin councillor Chris O’Leary, Mandy O Leary Hegarty.
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