FG seeks to meet quota with low-profile candidates
Fine Gael is nearing the completion of its election card with the addition of little-known women in Kerry and Laois, while another is being lined up in Wicklow.
The Irish Independent has also learned that negotiations with ex-Labour councillor Noel McCarthy in Cork East are set for a positive outcome.
The party has approached the parliamentary assistant of Dublin South TD Peter Mathews, who quit Fine Gael in October 2013 having been expelled from the parliamentary party after voting against the abortion bill. Fine Gael wants his PA, Avril Cronin, to run in Wicklow alongside sitting TDs Simon Harris and Andrew Doyle. Ms Cronin has not yet indicated whether she will take up the offer.
As the party stretches to reach the 30pc female quota, it has added Grace O'Donnell to the ticket in Kerry and Thomasina Connell in Laois.
Strategists are still looking at a number of constituencies, including Donegal, where Gaeltacht Minister Joe McHugh is the lone candidate.
Ms O'Donnell, a former mayor of Tralee, joins sitting deputies Brendan Griffin and Jimmy Deenihan in what is a new five-seat constituency. She is a long-time party member.
In Laois, Ms Connell will be Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan's running mate. She is a solicitor who has worked in the charity sector for many years.
In an effort to maximise its seats, Fine Gael is also assessing whether it can add some men in a limited number of constituencies, most notably Cork East.
Asked whether he has entered an arrangement with the senior government party, Mr McCarthy told the Irish Independent: "Formally I haven't made up my mind yet. I'm still an Independent councillor."
However, sources say that this is on the verge of being a done deal, even though it might upset some members locally.