The 56-year-old from Bantry said that despite being nominated by local branches he was withdrawing from the race due to pressure of work. “Because of the extra responsibilities I inherited when I became mayor last June, I don’t think the time is right,” Mr O’Shea said.
He refused to say which remaining candidate he would be supporting at the convention, which takes place at the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway.
Sitting TD Jim O’Keeffe and Paddy Sheehan, who lost his seat in the last General Election, are the bookies favourites to be nominated. However, Mr O’Shea said he believed it was “wide open”. He added that his preferred option would be if the party ran three candidates.
It is believed that the Fine Gael hierarchy is actively considering that option, especially as Fianna Fáil is trying to woo Independent councillor Christy O’Sullivan to bolster their chances of retaining their second seat, following the announcement that Joe Walsh is retiring.
Mr O’Sullivan is based in Clonakilty and sources within FG say that they might have to add Cllr Jim Daly, who also lives there, on to the ticket to counter that threat.
Mr Daly confirmed yesterday that his name is still down for the selection convention, which will be attended by 900 delegates. Castletownbere-based Cllr Noel Harrington, a postmaster, also confirmed that he was still in the running.
Cllr Kevin Murphy, a farmer from Kinsale said: “My name is in the hat and I intend to keep on going.”
The remaining candidate contesting the selection convention is Flor McCarthy from Rossmore. The 28-year-old is the youngest candidate in the race and is the son of sitting councillor Maura Cal McCarthy and the late John Cal McCarthy, who spent 19 years on the council.