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Could Martin Sheen be the next President of Ireland?

The rumours circulating about potential candidates in this year’s race to the Aras reads like a pilot script for a ‘Celebrity President’ television series.

IRISH FACEBOOK AND Twitter users have been busy trying to unearth another candidate for his year’s presidential election.

Since the withdrawal of Senator David Norris, people have been scrambling for another interesting candidate and some unusual names have cropped up across social media sites.

There have been several campaigns set up on Facebook and Twitter, ranging from the possible (Gay Byrne) to the unthinkable (Eamon Dunphy) and the plain outrageous (Martin Sheen).

Broadcaster Gay Byrne took the calls seriously for a bit but then realised he was better off being Ireland’s know-it-all ‘Uncle Gaybo’ rather than the official Head of State. He officially withdrew from the race (well, before he was really ‘in it’) last Saturday.

Cue another ‘celebrity’ candidate in former RTÉ darling, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh. The GAA commentator turns 81 this week but has said this would not deter him from running. The Kerry native has seemingly heard from a political party but hasn’t said which one. It won’t matter, however, as the Gaelgoir is adamant he will run as an Independent.

Ó Muircheartaigh is currently a 14/1 bet with Paddy Power.

The most bizarre, television-inspired campaign yet has to be @Sheen4Aras, which has called on actor Martin Sheen to throw his hat in the ring. The West Wing star actually is an Irish citizen (as his mother, Mary Ann Phelan, was born in Tipperary). That means he hits at least some of the criteria – he is over 35 years of age and is a citizen of the country.

His CV also says that he was once the former American President Jed Bartlett.

Does that qualify him? Although more than 3,200 people on Facebook seem to think so, Sheen himself doesn’t. The 70 year-old isn’t new to such rumours as his name was bandied about before the last presidential election in the US. At the time (in 2006) he said:

I’m just not qualified. You’re mistaking celebrity for credibility.

Sheen is currently an outside 200/1 bet with the bookies. However, he has got the endorsement* of former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on Twitter: put a call into Sheen’s people to see if the actor would consider a new role but we have yet to hear back.

In the meantime, some other broadcasters, such as Eamon Dunphy and Miriam O’Callaghan, have been billed as potential candidates.

Outspoken sports pundit Dunphy ruled himself out this morning (phew?). He said he would rather spend seven years in Mountjoy Prison than in the Phoenix Park.

Ray D’Arcy’s radio programme on Today FM seemed to lead the Twitter campaign for O’Callaghan with a #Miriamforprez hashtag but she has already quashed any talk of her candidacy.

In an emphatic Twitter update yesterday she thanked certain users for their encouragement but simply said “Nooooooooooooooooooo……………………”

Over at Paddy Power’s, Labour nomination Michael D. Higgins is still the favourite to become the next President with 8/11 odds. He is followed by Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell at 7/2.

Martin McAleese, the outgoing president’s husband, has made it into Paddy Power’s books at 25/1 – the same odds given to Rosemary ‘Dana’ Scallon, who is understood to be considering seeking a nomination.

Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness is also priced at 25/1 by the bookies.

*We think he’s joking.

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