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Race for the Áras

Mitchell's presidential hopes complicate Fine Gael leadership's backing for Cox

Party leadership have pinned their hopes on Cox but had not factored in Gay Mitchell who declared his intention to seek the nomination on Friday.

THE DECISION OF Gay Mitchell to seek the Fine Gael nomination to run for president later this year could upset the chances of former European Parliament president Pat Cox whom the party leadership had backed based on their own polling.

The Sunday Times reports that Fine Gael’s decision to ‘paracute’ Cox into the presidential race was based on his strong performance in polling conducted by party headquarters. But this was polling that did not factor in Dublin MEP Gay Mitchell who declared his intentions on Friday.

Polling indicated that former Taoiseach John Bruton was the most popular but having ruled himself out, the party turned to the second most popular Cox who performed better than MEP Mairead McGuinness who is also running.

With Cox having applied to join the party, which would allow him to seek the nomination to stand for the presidency, the leadership must now deal with Mitchell’s entry into the race.

The Sunday Times notes that Mitchell backed Enda Kenny during the attempted leadership heave last year, which may create difficulties for the Taoiseach.

A recent poll by found that of the three Fine Gael candidates in the race, Pat Cox was the most popular, followed by Mairead McGuinness and then Mitchell.

Read all of’s coverage of the Race for the Áras >

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