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Fine Gael to add third candidate

Fine Gael is to add a female candidate to its general election ticket in Kerry, though as yet her identity remains secret.

The move by Fine Gael HQ is in response to the July 2012 Gender Quota Bill which stipulates that female candidates must account for 30 per cent of all candidates put forward for election by political parties.

At its Kerry convention Fine Gael already selected sitting TD's Minister Jimmy Deenihan and Brendan Griffin to contest the election in the new five seat constituency.

Deputies Griffin and Deenihan beat off competition from Senator Tom Sheahan to secure the two available nominations.

They will now be joined by a third female candidate who will be imposed directly by the party's National Election Strategy Committee led by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The decision to add a third candidate has led to anger among some senior party figures in the county.

Speculation is rife as to the identity of the new candidate. Early rumours suggest the candidate will be from the Tralee area though this is uncertain.

Former Tralee Town Councillor Grace O'Donnell said she has not been contacted about fighting the General Election but would be "honoured" if she was asked to stand.

Mairead Fernaane, also a former member of Tralee Town Council, declined to comment when asked if she had been approached to run.

Some senior local party members have cast doubt on whether the candidate will be from Tralee. They suggest that two potential female candidates have already been approached in the Killarney area.