Presidency race will be a ‘dog fight’ says Pádraig Ó Céidigh as he pulls out

‘As things stand now, I think Michael D Higgins will be president next November when he meets Donald Trump’

‘I’m not going to go. That was a really tough call for me,’ says Pádraig Ó Céidigh. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘I’m not going to go. That was a really tough call for me,’ says Pádraig Ó Céidigh. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh has announced that he is not going to run as a candidate in the presidential election.

“I’m not going to go. That was a really tough call for me. The main reason for that is quite frankly, I don’t think I’d win it. If I’m going to go I’m going to win,” he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show.

“Anything I ever do in life I go to win. I’m very much an entrepreneur, I assess risk, the fact that the President Michael D Higgins is at 50 per cent in the polls, everybody else is lower than 15 per cent, which is broadly coming back to me.

“That’s a real dog fight, it would be really, really difficult,” he said. “As things stand now, I think Michael D will be President next November when he meets Trump.

“Even if the President dropped 30 per cent, he’s still going to get 550,000-600,000 first preferences. The other factor in it is that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are supporting Michael D Higgins, that’s from 65 per cent of the voting population.”

He said that Michael D Higgins is known by every person in the country. “Michael D does not have to put up posters, at €8, €10 or €12 each, everybody knows Michael D Higgins, everybody does not know me or a lot of the other people out there.

“It would be an expensive enterprise, but not as expensive as some people make it out to be.” He said he had received many offers of support and that money would not have been an issue.

When he worked with former president, Mary McAleese, he said he saw at close hand what the presidency could achieve. “The reason I didn’t throw my hat in the ring seven years ago was that Aer Arann was in difficulty.

“I wanted to be there with my team and see that no one lost their job, my biggest achievement in life, in business, was that not one person lost their job at that time.”

Senator Ó Céidigh explained that his plans for the presidency began after he became chairman of the water committee. “It started with a number of political journalists asking would I have an interest in going? Close friends said I should consider. At that stage I didn’t know what Michael D was going to do, his timing made it very difficult to plan a proper strategy because it’s really difficult to get a nomination.”

He said he wasn’t disappointed with Michael D personally. “I used to meet him when I sponsored Galway Utd, I’ve a lot of respect for the President, personally and professionally.

“I believe that our country needs a change, a different direction, we need to be looking forward, not looking backwards. I think Áras an Uachtaráin needs a new energy similar to what President McAleese brought at the time when she became president,” he added.