Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has been dealt a fresh blow to his campaign to find a candidate his party can support in the presidential election to be held in October.

The Member of European Parliament for the Ireland South constituency, Brian Crowley, said on Tuesday that he has withdrawn his name as a candidate for his party’s nomination.

Crowley told RTE News that he would not be seeking the nomination because the party leadership made it clear it did not see an internal Fianna Fail candidate as the way forward.

Crowley described that as a mistake and said he believed Fianna Fail should be running an internal party candidate.

He refused to say if he felt the handling of Fianna Fail’s candidacy in the presidential election reflected badly on Martin’s leadership, and he said he bore no animosity towards him.

However, Crowley said he believed he could have won the presidency if he had gone forward and was nominated, even, as he described it, in “the difficult circumstances Fianna Fáil finds itself in at present.”

He did not rule out running for the presidency in the future.

A Fianna Fail spokesperson said neither the party nor Martin would be commenting on the matter.

Martin is already in difficulty with senior party members over his decision not to seek wider approval before agreeing that Fianna Fail would back broadcaster Gay Byrne if he decided to run as an Independent.

But Byrne, a hot favorite to win, announced last week that he is not running.
Hollywood star Martin Sheen, subject of a Facebook and Twitter campaign to run, is also a non-runner.

After former favorite Senator David Norris, also an independent, was forced to withdraw because of his support in an Israeli court for his former gay boyfriend who was convicted of statutory rape against a 15-year-old boy 15 years ago, the presidential race has descended into near-farce despite the special elevation it was given by former current President Mary McAleese and her predecessor Mary Robinson.

Former Gaelic games broadcaster Micheal O’Muircheartaigh, 81 last week, is still considering whether he should run as an independent.

Former candidate Dana, who contested the election 14 years ago and put up a strong performance, is also still considering whether she should enter the race.

Current favorite is 70-year-old former minister, Labor’s Michael D. Higgins, with Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell a poor second. Business entrepreneur Sean Gallagher and former Special Olympics organizer Mary Davis are also candidates as independents.