Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that Fine Gael councillors will be abstaining from any votes on nominating independent presidential candidates.
The decision represents a significant boost for the campaigns of Senator David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon – as the councillors will not be voting against them.
A number of local authorities are to meet in the coming days to decide if they will facilitate either of their entries into the Áras race.
Meanwhile David Norris is now just three names short of the 20 Oireachtas members needed to secure a formal nomination to contest for the presidency.
The Taoiseach – who was speaking at the National Ploughing Championships – said Fine Gael councillors will not be supporting any candidate other than Gay Mitchell.
“The Fine Gael party has made its selection,” he said.
“We are not supporting any other candidate. We support Gay Mitchell and all our efforts will go towards electing him.
“Fine Gael councillors from around the country will not receive any further instruction from me. They have abstained on all of these (votes) so far,” he added.
“We are not supporting any candidate other than our own.”