Former Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle may enter the race to represent the party in the Presidential election.

Ms Doyle has contacted a large number of party backbenchers to gauge her support.

A spokesman for Ms Doyle has said she will be announcing a decision within the next 48 hours.

It is understood that the former junior minister has told colleagues that she would have been a strong backer of John Bruton had he contested the nomination, and that she now feels the way is clear for her to stand.

Avril Doyle was an MEP for ten years until 2009. Prior to that she was a TD for Wexford and a junior minister.

If she decides to contest the nomination she would be facing MEPs Gay Mitchell and Mairead McGuinness, as well as former Progressive Democrat Pat Cox.