Sinn Fein will not ask veteran broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh to run for President – and are still considering a candidate of their own.
A Sinn Fein spokesman has confirmed that his party has made no approach to the 80-year-old, now a contender for the Aras after Gay Byrne’s withdrawal from the election at the weekend.
Ó Muircheartaigh has yet to name the politicians who have approached him and asked him to consider a bid to replace Mary McAleese as President.
But both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail have distanced themselves from speculation surrounding Ó Muircheartaigh.
The Sinn Fein spokesman said: “We didn’t approach him.” A Fianna Fáil spokesman also said: “There’s been no contact with Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.”
Kerry native Ó Muircheartaigh has told The Irish Times that he has been approached by politicians but would not say who they were or whether or not they were attached to parties.
Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh to make decision on Presidential run by next week
“I had approaches from politicians a few months ago,” he said. “Their approaches were based on would I be interested and saying I’d be suitable.
“I’m not going to name anyone, except to say they were politicians and others would have been intermediaries. I’ll be saying no more until I announce next week what decision I’ve come to.”
Insisting he will stand as an Independent candidate or not at all, Ó Muircheartaigh needs the support of 20 Irish parliament members or four country councils to run in the October election.
He did speak at a Sinn Féin hosted conference - Uniting Ireland – Towards a New Republic - in Cork in June when he said that the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland had helped move towards achieving a united Ireland.
Sinn Féin deputy for Donegal North East, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, also told the Irish Times of a ‘growing desire’ within the party to enter the Presidential election.
“It has to be a big name,” said Mac Lochlainn. “I’d like to see us running someone. If we don’t, we are out of the debate.”
The Sinn Féin leadership is not expected to reveal its strategy until after the party’s Ard Fheis (annual meeting) which takes place in Belfast next month.