Martin says presidency system 'too restrictive'


FIANNA FÁIL is to allow its councillors to support Independent candidates seeking nominations from local authorities to run for the presidency.

However, the party is reserving its position in relation to its members in the Oireachtas.

Speaking yesterday Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the existing system for nominating candidates seeking to run for the presidency was “too restrictive”. Following the constitutional convention next year, he hoped the Constitution could be amended to make it easier for people to contest the presidency.

Fine Gael had issued instructions to its councillors in Longford not to allow Independent Senator David Norris to become a candidate by voting against any attempt to nominate Mr Norris, he said.

“Our councillors will have the freedom to facilitate the right of running to such candidates. They will not be restricted by us. We will certainly not be trying to block people from running.”

Mr Martin said the public deserved the widest choice possible and it should not be restricted to the nominees of political parties. However, speaking on RTÉ’s radio yesterday he indicated his statement was aimed at giving guidance to the party’s councillors on local authorities.

He said he was reserving the position in relation to Oireachtas members “because obviously if we are nominating our candidate we will require our Oireachtas members to do that”.

Mr Martin said the party would decide by mid-June as to whether it would run a candidate in the presidential election later in the year and, if so, who the candidate would be.

Asked about MEP Brian Crowley, who has been tipped as a possible candidate for Fianna Fáil, Mr Martin told News at One: “Brian Crowley would be an outstanding candidate. He is very capable and has enjoyed very popular support in successive European elections.

“I have had discussions with Brian and Brian wants to work with the party in a cohesive way and will be a part of the discussions that the party will be having and the analysis that will be undertaken in the coming weeks.”

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House last night, he said the discussions were ongoing with Mr Crowley “who would be an obvious potential candidate for Fianna Fáil”.

He said Seán Gallagher “would be an interesting candidate” for the presidency.

Mr Martin said earlier he did not think former taoiseach Bertie Ahern would be a candidate for the Fianna Fáil nomination for the presidency.