Published 21/03/2011 | 05:00
FINE Gael is working from a shortlist for the next presidential election of former Taoiseach John Bruton and MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Sean Kelly.
Fine Gael is the largest party in the country, Taoiseach
Enda Kenny is anxious to win the presidency for the first time in the party's history.
The party approached
Nobel Prize-winning poet
Seamus Heaney last year, but Mr Heaney turned down the invitation to run.
But now Fine Gael has narrowed its search down to the three high-profile figures.
"The die is cast now on the presidential election. We're looking at
Sean Kelly or
John Bruton," a senior party source said.
The Fine Gael leadership is not certain of the level of interest of the contenders, but believes one of these figures will emerge.
However, it is unlikely any of the three will officially declare an interest if they are not guaranteed to be selected by the party.
The election of
Ireland's ninth president, to replace President
Mary McAleese, will take place in October or November.
David Norris has already started his campaign, while the
Labour Party will choose between former minister Michael D Higgins and former spin doctor Fergus Finlay.
Sinn Fein and
Fianna Fail have not yet revealed their plans.