Shatter to get FG ticket lifeline if he loses convention
Fine Gael is likely to throw former justice minister Alan Shatter a lifeline if he fails to get through tonight's selection convention in Dublin-Rathdown, party sources have said.
But it's believed Mr Shatter may decide to step down at the general election if he fails to secure the support of delegates.
Fine Gael sources last night said the outspoken TD has been frantically canvassing party members in recent days ahead of the convention in Goatstown.
The party's executive council is not scheduled to meet until two hours before the convention and will then decide the strategy to adopt in relation to the newly-formed three seat constituency.
Sources say it is likely that a diktat will be issued that ensures the sole female candidate in the race, councillor Josepha Madigan, is on the ticket.
Such a move would leave the three remaining candidates, Mr Shatter, councillor Neale Richmond and John Kennedy, to battle it out for the final place.
Mr Richmond, who is a close supporter of outgoing TD Olivia Mitchell, is being tipped to defeat Mr Shatter. However, sources say the outcome of the contest is difficult to call.
If defeated, the party is likely to throw Mr Shatter a lifeline and offer to add him to the ticket.
But, a number of party sources last night suggested Mr Shatter could turn down the offer if he fails to make it through the convention.
"Shatter is very proud. I think he may well decide to hang up his boots if he feels he does not have the necessary support from delegates," said a party source. The party's national executive could, however, decide against issuing a gender diktat tonight before adding Ms Madigan at a later date.
Such a move would see a three-candidate strategy being adopted in a three-seat constituency.
"Dublin-Rathdown was always going to be one of our most challenging constituencies because of the Shatter factor," said a Fine Gael strategist.
But speaking to the Herald last night, Mr Shatter said:
"I have been getting positive support from members but I am not taking the outcome for granted," he said.
He added that he is "not contemplating" the prospect of being added to the ticket, saying that he is "optimistic" ahead of the convention.
Fine Gael still faces significant challenges in meeting the 30pc gender quota targets.
It's expected that female candidates will be added in a number of constituencies over the coming days.