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Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Race for the Áras

Fianna Fáil not running internal candidate in presidential election

Today’s announcement follows a meeting of the party’s TDs, senators and MEPs in Dublin.

SPEAKING OUTSIDE Government Buildings this afternoon, the Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin announced that the party will not run an internal candidate in the presidential election.

He said that the parliamentary party reached the decision today, which would be a difficult one for some members, after considering different perspectives within the party. He also said that the party remains open to backing an independent candidate, but would come to a decision on that in the coming weeks.

Martin added that it was clear to him that in the public’s mind, the presidential election is not a party-based election and people are more focused on the candidates rather than their parties.

A six-person frontbench committee met last week to discuss the implications of a number of election options facing the party and made its recommendation to the wider parliamentary party today.

Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley had expressed interest in securing the party’s presidential nomination. However, he withdrew his bid last week, saying that it was clear to him that the party leadership did not want to run an internal candidate. Martin said today that Crowley would have been a good candidate ‘in his own right’ with strong Munster support.

He said he’d spoken to Crowley during the summer and had said the party would decide its position on a candidate by the end of August.

Regarding his contact with Gay Byrne in offering the party’s support in running for the Áras, Martin said that he doesn’t “see the big deal when there’s a lot of speculation around one person in picking up the phone and calling that person.” He said that the ‘old way of doing things’ involved sending people behind the scenes to sound someone out, but “that’s not the way I intend to do things.”

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said in  a recent interview that he feels he could have made a good candidate for the party, if it were not for the country’s economic downturn, the fall in his party’s popularity and “all the hassle of the tribunals”.

Eligible members of the Irish public have just one day left to register for postal voting in the presidential election.

- Additional reporting by Sinead O’Carroll

Read: I would have run for President and ‘done alright’ – Bertie Ahern >

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