FINE Gael delivered a shock last night after selecting a relatively unknown councillor as its candidate for the upcoming Dublin West by-election.
Fingal County Councillor Eithne Loftus -- who is originally from Mayo -- was chosen at a selection convention in Castleknock.
The party had been widely tipped to select local activist and councillor, Kieran Dennison, to contest the seat vacated by the late Brian Lenihan.
Cllr Dennison had previously told the Herald he was 'quietly confident' he would be the preferred candidate.
However, party delegates instead chose Cllr Loftus -- who was co-opted onto Fingal County Council in 2007.
She later stood for election to the council in 2009 where she was elected after securing over 3,000 first preference votes.
Speaking after the convention, Cllr Loftus said the victory fulfilled a "life-long ambition".
She added: "I am extremely proud to represent Fine Gael in this by-election. It represents the fulfillment of a life-long ambition. I have always worked hard to deliver good quality services to the people of Dublin West."
Labour Party councillor Patrick Nulty is being seen as the front runner to win the seat. However there are question marks over whether he will receive a strong enough level of support from his constituency colleague, Minister Joan Burton.