Former Rose of Tralee tipped to run as Fine Gael candidate for MEP
Former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh has said she is interested in running in next year's European Parliament elections under the Fine Gael banner.
If the 31-year-old Mayo Rose makes an official declaration, she will run in the Midlands North West constituency.
It is believed that Fine Gael will be running two candidates with a view to winning both seats in the election, which will take place in May 2019.
Ms Walsh, who is a member of Fine Gael, did not reply when contacted by the Irish Independent, but it is understood that talks are under way to get her in the race.
MEP Mairead McGuinness, who will also contest the election, said she would be happy to see the Mayo Rose as a potential contender.
"I'm running in the next European election and I'm delighted that Maria Walsh is a possible candidate. The election will be important for Ireland post-Brexit and for the European Union," she said.
Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring told the Irish Independent that if Ms Walsh was chosen in the Fine Gael selection convention, she would get his full support.
"It's great to see so many interested in standing for Fine Gael and I'll support any member, including Maria, if they get selected at the convention," he said.
The Mayo contestant made history in 2014 when becoming the first gay woman to win the Rose of Tralee crown.
The following year, Ireland became the first country in the world to bring in same-sex marriage by a popular vote.
Since then, Ms Walsh has become a regular face on our TV screens and is also an advocate for LGBT rights.
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Ms Walsh moved to Shrule in Co Mayo with her family more than 20 years ago but, following her graduation in journalism and visual media at Griffith College, moved to New York and later to Philadelphia.