Belfast Telegraph

O'Cuiv calls for presidency bid

Fianna Fail deputy leader Eamon O'Cuiv is on a potential collision course with Micheal Martin after repeating demands for the party to field a candidate to fight for the presidency.

Brian Crowley's acrimonious decision not to contest the race and Mr Martin's high-profile approach to broadcaster Gay Byrne suggests the party chief wants a candidate not linked with Fianna Fail.

A special committee comprised of Mr Martin, Mr O'Cuiv and four other senior party members is expected to meet next week to make a recommendation on the party's position.

Mr O'Cuiv, who has been touted as a potential candidate, would not be drawn on who he thinks the party should back. But he said: "I've always been of the view that Fianna Fail should run a candidate."

Munster MEP Mr Crowley withdrew as a potential candidate on Tuesday, claiming it was a mistake for the party not to be running one of its own. Mr Martin welcomed the decision and claimed the party's position on the presidency would be decided by the parliamentary party.

A special sub-committee has been established to make a recommendation and is made up of Mr Martin, Mr O'Cuiv, Timmy Dooley, Dara Calleary, Sean O Fearghail and Senator Daragh O'Brien.

It is due to meet on Monday and could make a recommendation to the parliamentary party ahead of its meeting on Wednesday.

While Mr O'Cuiv has publicly voiced his position, it is understood at least two other committee members privately share Mr Martin's apparent view that the party should not put up its own candidate.

One senior party source suggested there was little appetite within the parliamentary party to contest the presidency.

"The general view is that there's little point being in a position of contesting an election that we're not going to win, that's going to cost us a hell of a lot of money and there's no real benefit or gain in being in that race," he said.

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