Belfast Telegraph

No presidential bid for Gay Byrne

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne has said he will not enter the race to become the next president.

Despite opinion polls indicating that the former Late Late Show host was favourite to win, he has now ended speculation about his plans.

Mr Byrne said that having discussed the prospect with his family, he did not believe he was what the Irish people are looking for in a head of state at this time.

Polling placed him as the clear leader over candidates backed by the government parties and he said he was flattered by the level of support.

But the 77-year-old told RTE that he was ruling himself out of the race.

Confirmation of his decision followed disquiet among Fianna Fail ranks, with a number of the party's representatives speaking out against the decision of senior figures to signal their backing for Mr Byrne, before a wider party decision on which candidate to back had been taken.

He is now said to have informed Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin that he did not intend to run.

Earlier this week a Paddy Power/Red C survey gave the former broadcaster more than a quarter of the vote at 28%, ahead of Labour's Michael D Higgins.

Mr Byrne's support was greatest among women and younger people, while Mr Higgins, on 21%, got the strongest backing from the middle-aged and older people.

Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell secured just 13% of first preference votes - a blow for the senior coalition party - along with Fianna Fail's Brian Crowley, who has not declared but has been touted as a potential candidate. Businessman Sean Gallagher was on 12%, Special Olympics Ireland chairwoman Mary Davis was on 7% and Dana Rosemary Scallon, also rumoured to be considering a bid, was on 6%.


From Belfast Telegraph