FINE Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness is expected to rule herself out as a candidate for the by-election caused by the tragic death of former Junior Minister Shane McEntee.
She is going to remain as an MEP for the Ireland East constituency in Brussels because she has no desire to run in the Dail by-election.
It means that Fine Gael is facing a major challenge to find a candidate for the by-election – which must be held under law within the next six months.
Ms McGuinness, pictured, the former farming editor of the Irish Independent, has made no public comment about the forthcoming by-election despite speculation about her as a possible Fine Gael candidate.
But local sources have told the Irish Independent that there is no question of her running. It is understood that she is satisfied with her work in the European Parliament, where she is on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and another food safety committee.
And sources say her silence on the issue is out of concern for the feelings of the family and friends of Mr McEntee. The highly respected junior agriculture minister died by suicide at his home in Nobber, Co Meath, just before Christmas.