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Gay Byrne and his wife Kathleen Watkins Damien Eagers/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Gay Byrne

Gaybo: if the 'mass of Irish people' want me as president, I'll listen

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne has spoken out about the calls for him to become president – which he says came “out of the blue”.

IF THE MAJORITY of Irish people want him to be President, he’ll listen.

That’s the message the broadcaster Gay Byrne gave out today when speaking to RTÉ’s Claire Byrne about the fast-spreading news that he hadn’t ruled out running for the presidency.

However, Byrne was clear that he was taken by surprise by the calls for him to run in the presidential race.

“The newspapers are wrong straight away,” he told Claire Byrne, saying the first thing he had heard of it was when he got a call from 4FM telling him that he had received 46 per cent of the vote in a poll about presidential candidates – even though he hadn’t even been nominated.

Byrne, who was speaking from Donegal, said:

I would have to tell you – if the mass of Irish people demanded that Gay Byrne be president, I would have to consider it seriously because it would be extremely demeaning and rude to the office of President were I not to do so. But the mass of Irish people are not doing that so far.

He added:

I haven’t given any thought to it at all because it has suddenly risen out of the blue.
If somebody can convince me that the mass of Irish people are clamouring for Gay to be president, I would have to listen to the clamour.

With regard to David Norris, he commented:

I think somehow the Irish people think that David Norris has been dumped out of the race through underhanded means. They’re not sure how, they’re not sure why, they’re not sure who, but that’s what they feel and then arising out of that I have the feeling that they have no time for the political parties

When asked how he would react if  a political party approached him and said they would support him, he said “do I need to get in a bus and travel the roads of Ireland asking people to vote for me?” He added: “I would rather be sitting where you are with my little mic open talking to the people of Ireland”.

Byrne said he was flattered and it was a “huge compliment” to be asked to run for the role of President. “It is a very heartening thing to have happened,” he said. “I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”

He described himself as “a fit and young 77″ and discounted claims that he was too old to run.

He did caution that being President would mean “a huge disruption to one’s life”.

Listen to the full interview on the RTÉ website here>

Read: Gaybo for the Áras? Byrne won’t rule out presidential run>

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