Four candidates seeking the Fine Gael nomination to run for President have addressed a special meeting of the parliamentary party.

Each candidate - Pat Cox, Avril Doyle, Mairead McGuinness and Gay Mitchell - was given a minimum of eight minutes to outline why they see themselves as the best candidate.

The party will select the candidate at a convention on Saturday 9 July.

Reports indicate that MEP Mairead McGuinness is currently the front-runner for the party nomination.

However speaking outside the Dáil today she said she 'remained firmly focused on 9 July' and will 'continue to work right up to the 11th hour.'

Gay Mitchell said he had no doubt that, given the nomination, he would secure Dublin and go on to secure the Fine Gael vote nationwide.

He said he thought this, coupled with Enda Kenny's strength in Connacht, would be 'the combination to win.'

Avril Doyle was equally confident when she spoke outside the Dáil.

'I'm the only one who can be truly described as a national candidate,' she said, adding that she would have traction in Dublin and the rest of rural and urban Ireland.

Pat Cox, who only became a member of Fine Gael earlier this month, said he has been doing intensive work and described it as a 'great opportunity.'

'I started late for sure so I'm a realist,' he said. 'It was an opportunity for me to introduce myself on a more personal basis to them.'

Davis' support

Meanwhile, Special Olympics chief Mary Davis has won the backing of her first county council in her Presidential election bid.

This evening Ms Davis secured the support of Louth County Council.

Both she and Louth man Sean Gallagher had addressed the councillors in an effort to secure their backing but in the end Ms Davis secured a comfortable majority.