FIANNA FÁIL HAVE contacted veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne to offer support for his potential presidential bid, according to reports.
The party’s leader Micheál Martin contacted Byrne on Saturday night to extend support, the Irish Independent reports. Byrne, 77, says that has not yet made any decision on whether he will run and he plans to discuss the matter with his family first.
However, while the party are offering their backing to him, Byrne has said he will not run as a Fianna Fáil candidate, the Irish Examiner reports: “I would be an independent candidate, but they are happy to give me their backing,” he said.
Candidates need to secure 20 Oireachtas signatures to enter the race.
RTÉ reports that Fianna Fáil deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív, who has also been marked as a possible presidential contender, did not know of any approach to Byrne. “Nobody has discussed the issue with me – good, bad of indifferent,” he said.
Despite the apparent support for the former Late Late Show presenter, FF candidate Brian Crowley is also “still very much interested” in throwing his hat in the race, according to the Irish Times.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme today, Limerick TD Willie O’Dea said that he would support a bid by Byrne – as he believed the Irish people needed a president who was “not so closely connected with the established political system”.
O’Dea said that “if the party decides to support an internal candidate” he would be fully prepared to do so, but that he would prefer to back a person not already involved in politics. He said that Fianna Fáil needed to focus on fixing problems within the party at this time.
Asked if he thought Byrne’s potential political naivety would pose difficulties, O’Dea said that it “may actually work to his advantage”.
Nominations for the presidential race close at the beginning of October, with the election taking place on the 27th.
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