Gay Byrne tells FF he does not want presidential nod


Gay Byrne has told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he does not want to be considered as a presidential candidate.

The broadcaster has decided not to put his name forward amidst growning unease among Fianna Fail TDs and senators about having him as a party-backed presidential candidate.

Some party members had expressed concern yesterday that the leadership was preparing to parachute him into the race over party loyalists.

However any potential row was defused this monrning when Mr Byrne said he had reached the decision not to allow his name to go forward after consulting with his family.

He told RTE he did not believe he was what the Irish people were looking for in a President although he said he had been overwhelmed by the messages of loyalty, support and regard as well as offers of practical help.

He said aspiring to be President was a “worthy objective" and extended his best wishes to the other candidates in the race.

Mr Byrne said there was no particular reason why he had reached his decision but said the option of a tilt at the Aras had happened very quickly and before he knew anything about it and what a campaign might involve.

In a statement this afternoon Fianna Fáil said it respected Mr Byrne’s decision to rule himself out of the race and said a decision on whether or not the party would field a candidate for the election and who that might be would be taken next month.

The party said it had “made it very clear that we believe that potential candidates for the Presidency with substantial public support should not be prevented from standing because of the very restrictive nomination process.

“As was fully demonstrated in this week’s opinion poll, there was very wide public support for Gay Byrne’s potential candidacy,” it continued.

It said Mr Byrne had “many fine qualities and would have made an excellent candidate”.