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John Bruton (right) with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny: Bruton is under pressure to declare his hand for this autumn's presidential election. Peter Morrison/AP

Bruton under pressure to declare Áras intentions

Mairead McGuinness’s announcement has left former Taoiseach John Bruton under pressure to discuss his intentions.

FORMER FINE GAEL leader and taoiseach John Bruton is under pressure from senior figures within the party to disclose whether he intends to seek election to the Presidency this autumn.

The Sunday Business Post reports that Bruton, who would be expected to command the support of virtually all of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, is under pressure to declare his hand given the announcement of MEP Mairead McGuinness that she hopes to win the nomination.

Bruton, who served as Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997 and more recently acted as the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, could now find himself being muscled out of the process, with party figures committing their support to other candidates before Bruton speaks out about his interest.

Bruton, a former TD for Meath, has yet to issue any public comment about the presidency so far, though it has been previously speculated that he would only be interested in the nomination if he was guaranteed the unanimous support of the party.

The SBP’s Niamh Connolly reports that the declaration from McGuinness could now lead to a Fine Gael primary being held at a parliamentary party meeting within weeks – meaning Bruton faces significant pressure to make a statement on his interest.

Other potential candidates for the Fine Gael nomination include McGuinness’s fellow MEP Seán Kelly, the former GAA president, who has previously said it would be a “fantastic honour” to be President.

Another who could be interested in the nomination is former MEP Pat Cox, a former President of the European Parliament who returned to political life in Ireland as a proponent of the Lisbon Treaty during Ireland’s second referendum in late 2009.

Though Cox was first elected in 1989 as a Progressive Democrat, he ran as an independent in 1994 and 1999 and would be considered a palatable candidate within the FG ranks.

The SBP report also says that the Labour Party will not be discussing its presidential nomination until the conclusion of the Seanad election at the end of the month.

Sinn Féin will also be concentrating on the Seanad elections before discussing the prospect of a nomination, as the party requires the loyalty of 20 members of the Oireachtas to be able to put forward a name.

Sinn Féin only has 14 TDs at present, but could potentially also earn the support of independent TD Thomas Pringle, who is a former member of the party. If Sinn Féin could elect five Senators, it would then be entitled to nominate a candidate.

The election to succeed Mary McAleese is set to take place in late October or early November.

Read more on Bruton in today’s Sunday Business Post >

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