Miriam O’Callaghan again refuses to rule out run for presidency

Broadcaster speculated upon as possible Fianna Fáil candidate calls Higgins ‘wonderful’

Miriam O’Callaghan speaking to reporters when she launched the Laura Lynn Heroes ball which will take place on May 12th. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Miriam O’Callaghan speaking to reporters when she launched the Laura Lynn Heroes ball which will take place on May 12th. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

RTÉ has said it has “established procedures” on how to deal with an employee or contractor who wants to seek public office, as broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan repeatedly declined to rule out a run for the presidency.

Ms O’Callaghan was asked a number of times on Thursday if she wants to stand for the presidency but only replied that Michael D Higgins is “wonderful”.

The Prime Time host has been linked to the position and is often speculated upon as a possible candidate for Fianna Fáil, if there is to be an election this autumn.

A spokeswoman for RTÉ said that the company has a set policy on how to deal with those who may seek public office and who have on air roles.

“RTÉ has an established process around those who are considering seeking office,” the spokeswoman said. “However, any conversations regarding this are confidential.”

At an event for Laura Lynn, a hospice service for children with life limiting conditions, Ms O’Callaghan declined to rule an election run in or out.

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell, who himself has said he wants to stand against Mr Higgins, had called on her to clarify her intentions.

Ms O’Callaghan will not be filming her usual summer chat show on RTÉ One television this year, but she said this is due to other broadcast commitments.

“Well I couldn’t do everything this year. I’m doing 50 years since the Troubles broke out in Northern Ireland, a special documentary that we are starting to film at the beginning of June and we are going to the States, to places like Alabama, where the civil rights [movement] started.

“We have a wonderful president and I am only not doing my chat show because I am making this documentary.”

The President has yet to publicly declare if he wants a second term, but sources familiar with his thinking have said he will run again but will not say so until after the referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which takes place on May 25th.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have said they will wait for Mr Higgins to outline his plans before deciding the approach of their own parties.

However, sources in both parties would prefer Mr Higgins to get a second term unopposed.

Independent Senators Craughwell and Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Fianna Fáil Senators Mark Daly and Keith Swanick and Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice have been linked with the role and have not ruled out contesting a presidential election.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern says he is willing to run but would not stand against Mr Higgins, insisting the current president would win.

He would not seek Fianna Fáil’s support, however, and would position himself as Independent.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she believes there should be a contest.