A prominent Fianna Fáil Senator has urged the party to contest the presidential election.

In a strongly worded statement, Senator Ned O’Sullivan said a decision not to field a candidate would be a huge disappointment to party supporters and would do worse damage to Fianna Fáil than the General Election.

The Kerry-based senator called for an urgent party debate led by Micheál Martin.

He said Fianna Fáil had never shown the white feather even in the toughest times.

To do so now, his statement concluded, would set back party recovery and reduce Fianna Fáil to the role of bystanders in a hugely important national contest.