Gay Byrne says Fianna Fáil would support bid

Wednesday 19 October 2011 15.31
Gay Byrne - Eamon Ó Cuív 'unaware' of any approach
Gay Byrne - Eamon Ó Cuív 'unaware' of any approach

Broadcaster Gay Byrne has said Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin would support him if he decided to run for the Presidency.

Speaking tonight, he said he will be spending another few days talking to people and thinking, before he decides whether he will seek a nomination.

He said while he has been approached by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, and his wife Kathleen is a Fianna Fáil supporter, he would be an Independent candidate.

An outspoken critic of Europe in the past, he said what we are now seeing in Europe is a culmination of all his concerns over the years.

He described the situation as 'disastrous' and said 'we crossed a rubicon when we joined the single currency but there is no backing out now.'

He added: 'It is a mad, mad world and we are being run by mad people in Brussels.'

Asked whether he could afford to mount a presidential campaign, he said 'there would appear to be more offers of money and support' than he can cope with.

Mr Byrne confirmed to RTÉ News this morning that he had been approached by Mr Martin over the weekend. He said he is continuing to consider whether to enter the race and that he was consulting his family on the decision.

He will not be making any further comment about running for the Presidency for another week.

Mr Byrne said no one has set a time limit for him to make a decision, and he felt he had said enough about the issue for the moment.

The Irish Independent reported today that the broadcaster has insisted he would maintain autonomy despite any political party backing.

'They (Fianna Fáil) have guaranteed me their support, but I am not a Fianna Fáil candidate. I will be an Independent,' the 77-year-old said.

However, Fianna Fáil deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív has said he was unaware of any contact with the former 'Late Late Show' presenter.

'I know of no approach to Gay Byrne,' said Mr Ó Cuív. 'Nobody has discussed the issue with me – good, bad or indifferent.'

Mr Ó Cuív, who is the grandson of former president Éamon De Valera, had been touted as a possible Fianna Fáil candidate.

A spokesperson for Labour candidate Michael D Higgins said it is a matter for Fianna Fáil if they want to support any particular candidate.

The Labour spokesperson also said it is entirely a matter for individuals if they want to seek a nomination.

The spokesperson said Labour is concentrating on their own campaign and it is happy with how that campaign is going and the support Mr Higgins is receiving.