herald

Wednesday 22 May 2019

GAA icon Micheal considers FF offer of Aras bid

GAA legend Micheal O Muircheartaigh is now considering a late entry into the presidential race following Gay Byrne's decision not to run.

As Fianna Fail was plunged into chaos by Byrne's exit, Mr O Muircheartaigh (80) confirmed a Herald report that he had been approached about a nomination.

He was asked several weeks ago if he was interested but is understood to have decided against seeking a nomination after Gay Byrne emerged as the most popular name.

But it has now emerged that the former GAA commentator has received support from a number of political parties in recent days. He said last night that he will make a decision on whether to run "shortly".

"I haven't ruled out anything but even at the dogs last night I almost left with the number of people that were saying it to me," he said.

"I will give it a bit of consideration but it's a major undertaking."



embarrassing

The former RTE man said: "I won't spend too much time, usually when I give something a thought I make a decision (but) I have never been involved in a thing like this and it was never my intention."

If he did decide to seek election it could help rescue Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin from a hugely embarrassing situation.

Mr Martin is suffering a major backlash from several TDs over the Gay Byrne fiasco, with many maintaining that the party should run MEP Brian Crowley.

And a number of Fianna Fail TDs were this morning maintaining that they still favour an independent candidate, rather than someone within their own ranks.

But former Minister Willie O'Dea told the Herald that a Fianna Fail candidate, like MEP Brian Crowley, has "no chance" of being elected president.

"There is nobody in Fianna Fail who can be elected president given the way the party is still seen by voters.

"There is no possibility whatsoever in my mind of us electing a Fianna Fail president. It would be a bad mistake nominating our own candidate. I still believe we should look to an independent candidate that is already in the race or else support a completely new candidate that may emerge."

His views were echoed by his Dail colleague Niall Collins who said: "I can't identify anybody within our own ranks who I feel could potentially win the contest.

"Obviously there are people who could carry out the role and the job as president of Ireland quite successfully but I don't think that they're in a position where they could win the election."

Mr Martin's decision to pledge support to Mr Byrne caused unrest in the party.

Former Minister Mary O'Rourke said today that the approach to the ex-Late Late Show host should have been handled better.

"I would have preferred a far more nuanced approach. I felt he (Byrne) wouldn't run, and I felt that it was handled wrongly," she said.

hnews@herald.ie

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