INDEPENDENT county councillor John Paul O'Shea has dismissed rumours that it is a "done deal" that he will run for Fine Gael in Cork North West.
A senior member of the party, who did not want to be named, said that a deal has been struck and announcement is impending.
Mr O'Shea, who narrowly missed out on a seat in 2016, said that he has been approached by the party and discussions are on going, but that there is nothing agreed yet.
A senior source in Fine Gael, who did not wish to be named, said that it has already been agreed and Mr O'Shea will soon join the Fine Gael benches in County Hall, before being nominated at a later date.
The figure, an Oireachtas member, said that it is a "very clever poach by Fine Gael" as they will win a seat "easily" with his vote. The Lombardstown-based county councillor would aim for the northern half of the constituency on a ticket with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, who is based in the south.
Mr O'Shea was County Mayor when he ran at the last general election and just missed the last seat by 249 votes. He polled 4,814 first preference votes in that election. Adding the Fine Gael vote that former TD Aine Collins got in the northern part of the constituency would put him close to a quota.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms Collins, who won a seat in the Fine Gael surge of 2011 and lost it in the party's crash in 2016, said that she felt "betrayed" and "shocked" that Fine Gael was going outside the party for a candidate, and said she will contest the convention in order to get back on the ticket.
As Mr O'Shea would be unlikely to have the local membership backing to win a convention, it is expected that one will be held to select one candidate, with Mr Creed being selected, and the party would appoint him at a later date.
The move will also cause problems for Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin. The party was expected to focus its efforts on adding seats in Cork East and Cork North Central, but will now have to defend the seats of Aindrias Moynihan and Michael Moynihan as well.