The Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has offered veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne the party’s support in the Presidential election – if he decides to run.

Byrne has promised the nation an answer next week after he emerged as the new frontrunner to succeed Mary McAleese as President of Ireland.

Support for the Irish television legend now stands at almost 60 per cent according to the latest opinion poll from a Dublin radio station.

Byrne has shot to the top of the charts after gay senator David Norris was forced to withdraw from the race after a series of damaging revelations.

The 77-year-old Byrne is awaiting the return of one of his daughters from a holiday in France before he can hold a family meeting to discuss the Presidency.

But he has admitted to receiving a phone call from Fianna Fail leader Martin offering his party’s support if Byrne decides to run.

“They (Fianna Fail) have guaranteed me their support, but I am not a Fianna Fail candidate. I will be an Independent,” insisted Byrne.

“I think people realize that one way or the other I am assured Fianna Fail backing, but I am not a Fianna Fail candidate. This has been ironed out. I am assured there will be cross-party support.

“The official approaches have all been made. Fianna Fail are convinced no matter who they put up will be unelectable, so they’re giving me their support.”

Byrne is now awaiting the return of daughter Suzy from a French holiday before sitting down with her sister Crona and his wife Kathleen to reach a decision on the Presidency.

He added: “That’s part of the reason why I won’t be able to make a decision for at least a week.
“It’s one seven-year term and I will be old enough if I get through that.

“Mary McAleese has tried to push the boundaries and I would be in danger of pushing the boundaries. But it is a ceremonial office and there are huge constraints on what you may do.”

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