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FG scuppers radical electoral reform plan

FINE Gael has kicked to touch radical plans for a voting system that would elect celebrities and experts like George Lee.

Party leader Enda Kenny has won consensus on controversial plans to axe the Seanad and shorten the length of the President's term of office, but his TDs and senators remain divided on proposals to introduce a "list system" -- where seats are awarded to parties based on their share of the national vote.

Senior party figures such as Michael Ring, James Reilly and Charlie Flanagan were reported to have expressed "serious reservations" about the list system.

Mayo's Michael Ring has been one of the most vocal critics, claiming it would only attract "more fly-by-nights".

The idea of the new system, electing some individuals with a proven track record, became increasingly unpopular among some TDs in the aftermath of George Lee's dramatic departure a month ago.

Reference to the list system will feature in the party's "New Politics" document at the party's Ard Fheis.

Mr Kenny previously claimed a list system would allow for the election of "a limited number of people with particular expertise gained outside of politics".

But Mr Ring and others mounted strong opposition to the system in recent weeks. At one point, the Mayo TD said it would see the "super-rich with influence" elected.

A proposal to introduce a gender quota, meanwhile, was unexpectedly beaten by 18 to 14 votes. It would have ensured that 20pc of the party's candidates in the next local election are female, rising to 25pc in the European elections.

It failed to win support at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting vote, with Dublin South East TD Lucinda Creighton leading opposition.

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