Republican artist Robert Ballagh has officially withdrawn from Ireland’s Presidential election – and backed David Norris in the race to the Aras.
The left-wing sympathizer formally announced his withdrawal from the race to succeed Mary McAleese after a meeting with Sinn Fein and Independent deputies.
“My job is painting canvasses not canvassing votes,” declared Ballagh who confirmed his support for Norris’ name to appear on the ballot paper for the October election.
Ballagh had been in talks with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and the United Left Alliance about running as an anti-establishment candidate.
He was also interested in campaigning against the EU-IMF bail-out as part of any electoral policy.
“I did hold meetings about the election in general and the possibility of a left-wing candidate being on the ticket,” Ballagh told the Irish Independent.
“But I have no ambitions, none whatsoever, to run in the election.
“I’m passionately interested in politics but people feel that develops into an interest in running for public office.
“Having thought it through, I feel I should leave it to others, who have more distinct political ambitions than I.”
The Government is to announce a date at the end of October for the Presidential election.
Three referendums will take place on the same day but the by-election to replace Brian Lenihan is expected to be delayed until early in 2012.
Meanwhile, as Presidential candidates addressed Sligo County Council on Monday, independent hopeful Sean Gallagher promised to address the issues raised by the Cloyne Report if he was to meet the Pope as President of Ireland.
“I would, as President, welcome the Pope to Ireland but would also in that context have a conversation about the needs of the Irish people,” said Gallagher.