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Friday 17 August 2018

'Miriam should tell us if she's running for the Presidency' - McGrath

Miriam O’Callaghan and Alan Hughes at the launch of the LauraLynn Heroes Ball. Photo: Frank McGrath/Irish Independent
Miriam O’Callaghan and Alan Hughes at the launch of the LauraLynn Heroes Ball. Photo: Frank McGrath/Irish Independent

A government minister has called on broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan to declare if she intends to run for the presidency after she failed to clarify her intentions yesterday.

She was asked eight times if she would run for the Aras. On each occasion she declined to give a clear answer, insisting: "We have a wonderful president."

Disability Minister Finian McGrath has called on the RTE star to make her intentions known.

"If she is really interested, she should go for it and announce her candidacy," he said.

The call comes after presidential hopeful Gerard Craughwell suggested Ms O'Callaghan was "flying a kite" on a potential Aras bid by dropping her summer chat show.

She attended the launch of the LauraLynn Heroes Ball yesterday at the National Wax Museum and took questions on the matter but failed to provide any clarity.

Ms O'Callaghan said she has a busy summer planned and was too busy to do her seasonal Saturday night show.

She does not yet know if she will be filling her regular Sunday morning slot on Radio 1.

Her Prime Time commitments will be reduced during the summer. She said this would facilitate the making of a documentary about the Troubles in the North. She denied that her time would be used to start a presidential campaign, but would neither confirm nor deny any interest in the presidency.

"I'm doing 50 years since the Troubles broke out in Northern Ireland, a special documentary that we are starting to film at the beginning of June and we are going to the States, to places like Alabama, where the civil rights movement started," she said.

Conflict

"It wasn't possible to do a summer chat show, look after all my family and make this documentary, which will transmit in August on RTE One."

She was pressed on the presidency issue eight times yesterday, and 11 times stated: "We have a wonderful president."

The conversation eventually moved on to RTE's top talent seeking approval before attending events or doing promotional work. She agrees with the principle.

"You can't be doing stuff that would conflict with my work as a current affairs presenter. I think it particularly affects me in my work," she said.

However, when asked if there was a conflict of interest in her role as a broadcaster when her presidential ambitions remains unclear, she said: "We have a wonderful president."

Mr McGrath said he wants to know what her intentions are.

"If she's interested, she should declare," he said.

An RTE spokeswoman said: "RTE has an established process around those who are considering seeking office. Any conversations regarding this are confidential."

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