Mitchell pays tribute to Byrne after decision

Wednesday 19 October 2011 15.29
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Gay Mitchell - Paid tribute to broadcaster
Gay Mitchell - Paid tribute to broadcaster
Gerry Adams - Believes Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin would make a good presidential candidate
Gerry Adams - Believes Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin would make a good presidential candidate
Seán Gallagher - Not told to resign from FF National Executive
Seán Gallagher - Not told to resign from FF National Executive

Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell has hailed Gay Byrne’s enormous contribution after the veteran broadcaster decided not to put himself forward as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

‘I wish Gay and Kathleen the very best. I think he did it with great style. Gay is a broadcaster who's going into the history books anyway - he's made an enormous contribution,’ Mr Mitchell said.

‘I don't think people will make their minds up on the presidency probably until sometime towards the end of September or early October and I really think until then people’s view of who is going to be the President will not be solidified. I wish Gay well, I think he dealt with the matter very well’.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said Mr Byrne ‘did the wise thing’ by deciding not to put himself forward.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, Gerry Adams said on mature reflection Mr Byrne would realise he had done the right thing.

Commenting on the possibility of Sinn Féin putting forward a candidate, Mr Adams said there were people within the party who would make a good candidate.

He said Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin was an exemplary TD and added he would be very happy to see him stand as a candidate for Sinn Féin in the Presidential election.

But he added no decision to run a candidate had yet been made.
Mr Adams said that would happen in September and the party was in no great rush to make a decision.

He said Sinn Féin would not do what Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil had tried to do by foisting Gay Byrne on the party.

Mr Adams described the Fianna Fáil approach to Mr Byrne as a ‘stroke’.

Byrne 'pestered' to make decision

Meanwhile, broadcaster Gay Byrne has said he did not know whether Micheál Martin was disappointed by his decision not to run as the Fianna Fáil candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

He said he was being 'pestered' to make a decision and decided to put an end to all the speculation yesterday.

He said he was confronted by an offer by Mr Martin and opinion poll results and said he had to give it some serious consideration, but has no regrets about his decision not to run.

Mr Byrne said it was a completely new scenario for him and he had never dreamed of being president.

But he did not want to drag his wife and his family through a campaign for the next few months and thanked all those for their support.

Mr Byrne wished the four current contenders well in their campaigns and said he would back Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh as a candidate as he is probably 'the most popular man in Ireland'.

Gallagher not told to resign from FF Executive

A spokesman for Seán Gallagher has said he was not told to resign from the Fianna Fáil National Executive, as reported in today's Sunday Business Post.

He said Mr Gallagher resigned in writing of his own accord in January this year.

He said this confirmed what Mr Gallagher had communicated to party headquarters in September 2010, that he was no longer in a position to attend meetings of the party's national executive and/or the Louth constituency.

Mr Gallagher told the party that he wanted to concentrate on working with smaller business groups and community groups around the country.

Mr Gallagher's spokesperson said he would have been replaced at the next Ard Fheis which was expected to have taken place at the end of 2010.

However, when this did not happen, Mr Gallagher decided to formally resign.

The spokesperson said he had no comment to make on Gay Byrne's decision not to enter the presidential race.

He said Mr Gallagher is looking for the votes of supporters of all parties and not the parties themselves.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Fianna Fáil has said Micheál Martin continues to have the support of the Parliamentary Party.

It follows reports in today's Sunday Times that a number of TDs and Senators believe that his leadership has been 'damaged' by the failed attempt to convince Gay Byrne to be the party's presidential candidate.

The Parliamentary Party is to decide a strategy early next month on whether to run a candidate in the election on 27 October.

Asked whether the party would consider backing another Independent candidate, the spokesman said party councillors have already offered their support to Sean Gallagher and Mary Davis.

The party has made it clear that members are free to support who they wish.