Gay Byrne is set to be grilled on his Presidential credentials by the man who replaced him on legendary Irish TV show The Late Late – Pat Kenny.
Irish television’s top broadcaster Kenny has confirmed that he will subject Byrne to the same scrutiny as any other candidate in a live debate between all the candidates next month.
“I would put Gay through the wringer on my programme. I would be as tough with Gay as anybody else. I would have to do that,” vowed Kenny who has since been replaced himself on the Late Late by Ryan Tubridy.
“But as someone who has thrown those questions for so many years, Gay would be slicker, and more adept at answering them, or avoiding them if he chose.”
Kenny does believe his friend and colleague would be interested in the role and would attract at least one vote – his!
“Gay has his broadcasting work to do so would he really, at the end of the day, want to disrupt that?” asked Kenny.
“Still it’s an intriguing idea and if people said to him, ‘listen we would love you to do it’, I’m not sure he would turn it down and I think Gay would make a very good President.
“Bear in mind that he is 77, I’m sure he would choose his targets well as to be most effective in terms of his public appearances and interventions.
“I would vote for Gay. He is the father of the nation. He changed the country with ‘The Late Late Show’ and his morning radio programme. He dragged us into the 20th Century.”
Byrne, now 77 but forced back to work after losing a fortune in the downturn, has promised to announce whether or not he will run in the race ASAP.
He has also confirmed that he has been inundated with cross party support ever since he was linked to the election.
“I don’t want speculation to drag on,” said Byrne. “I’m talking to a few people about this. I want to hear what they have to say. I’m thinking about it.
“I have had cross-party support -- but all this is new to me.”
Two radio show polls showed Byrne gaining in popularity by the day with RTE’s Tubridy Show claiming 54 per cent support for the broadcaster.
Byrne added: “That 54 per cent support means that 46 per cent don’t want me to run”.
“I’m taking things like that on board too. I’m new on the radar and people, I imagine, are just getting their heads around it.
“The candidates have until the end of August to declare but I don’t want to drag it on. I’m talking to people, hearing what they have to say, then I will decide what I’m doing.”
A second radio poll shows 46 per cent support for Byrne after the controversial withdrawal of gay senator David Norris.
Special Olympics boss Mary Davis is now second on 16 per cent, ahead of Labor and Fine Gael candidates Michael D Higgins and Gay Mitchell respectively.
Definite election candidate Mary Davis met with Irish soccer manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his players on Monday as she denied reports that her campaign is being funded by the media mogul Denis O’Brien, who assists the FAI with Trap’s wages.
Davis did not deny however that O’Brien may have made a donation to her fund as she happily posed for photos with the soccer boss and his squad ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Croatia.
Special Olympics chief Davis also welcomed the news that Gay Byrne may run in the election. She said: “I think the more people in the race the better. It’s good for democracy.”