Run three to win two in Clare: Senator
A Fine Gael Senator says the party will have to add him to the ticket in the Clare in order to hold its two seats in the General Election.
Four Fine Gael Oireachtas members will tonight battle it out for a place on the General Election ticket in one of the party's most competitive selection conventions to date.
A total of six candidates will contest the party's convention in the Clare constituency.
Sitting TDs Joe Carey and Pat Breen are expected to win the convention - leaving party strategists with the dilemma of whether to add a third candidate.
The remaining candidates in the race are Senators Martin Conway and Tony Mulcahy, as well as Ennis-based councillor Mary Howard and party activist Ger O'Halloran.
Fine Gael strategists are leaning towards the option of adding a third candidate in a bid to maximise the party's vote.
While Mr Conway is the likely choice to be added to the ticket, Fine Gael sources have expressed concern about some of his public criticisms of the party in recent weeks.
He has also been linked to joining Renua - and is known to have a close relationship with the party's senator Paul Bradford, who is married to Renua leader Lucinda Creighton.
However, Mr Conway's supporters insist he is well-placed geographically to take a seat, as he is situated in the north of the county.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Conway said he believes his being added to the ticket would ensure the party won at least two seats in Clare.
"I expect the two TDs to be selected at convention. But I'm ready and available to be put on the ticket and represent our party.
"I believe my presence on the ticket will ensure we can defend our two seats," he said.
"If I am not on the ticket, it leaves a significant geographical area of Clare with no Fine Gael candidate and opens the field up to Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin," he added.
Clare, which offers four Dáil seats, is one of the final conventions to be held by Fine Gael ahead of the election.
Fianna Fáil is widely expected to take at least one seat through its transport spokesman Timmy Dooley.
The party is also running Clare GAA county board chairman Michael McDonagh.
Labour Party TD Michael McNamara will struggle to hold his seat.
But his decision to vote against the party over Aer Lingus may go in his favour. Sinn Féin is running Noeleen Moran.
The outcome of the Fine Gael selection convention for Dublin-Rathdown, the constituency of former minister Alan Shatter, will be decided on October 2.