Potential Presidential candidate Gay Byrne has caused his first political storm – after claiming that Ireland is being run by ‘mad people in Brussels’.
Byrne, 77, yet to confirm that he will run as an independent candidate in the autumn election, is known to be anti the European Union. He is expected to announce after this weekend he is running.
But this latest outburst will cause problems for the Fianna Fail party falling over themselves to back him as a candidate and spare themselves the trouble and expense of mounting a Presidential election campaign.
For someone yet to show their hand regarding the race to replace Mary McAleese, Byrne was very critical of the EU.
The veteran broadcaster blasted: “The current crisis in Ireland is a culmination of my concerns down the years”.
The 77-year-old Byrne added: “I never thought we would reach the disastrous phase we are at the moment in Europe in my lifetime.
“I eventually thought it would come in my grandchildren’s time but it has come much, much quicker that I visualized and it is happening even as we speak.”
Byrne’s comments are totally at odds with Fianna Fail’s pro-Europe stand and may damage his chances of support from the opposition party.
He also attacked the Euro when he spoke – bizarrely at the Dublin premiere of the musical Grease”
“The euro was a crazy notion from the very beginning,” claimed Byrne.
“We crossed the Rubicon when we joined the single currency. I think there is no backing out now but it is a mad, mad world and we are being run by mad people in Brussels.”
Asked by reporters if his stance on Europe would affect his potential Presidential campaign, Byrne added: “It might or might not. I haven’t changed my mind.”
In the past Byrne has described the Lisbon Treaty as ‘unintelligible bilge’.
He also described the Yes campaign in the Lisbon Treaty referendum as ‘sneaky, dishonest, under-handed’ and said he didn’t believe a word from the mouths of any of the ‘Yes’ brigade.
Developer Harry Crosbie, who accompanied Byrne and his wife Kathleen to the Grease launch, vowed to financially back any bid for the Presidency by the veteran broadcaster.
“I think the people love him and they cry out for him in the night. Go Gaybo, go,” said Crosbie as Byrne revealed that he has been inundated with offers of financial support.