Veteran broadcaster and GAA legend Micheal O Muircheartaigh has confirmed that he will not contest the Irish presidential election.

O Muircheartaigh announced on national broadcaster RTE on Friday morning that he has declined to take up the invitation to run as an independent candidate.

The decision spells more bad news for Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin who is coming under increased pressure from his party’s grassroots over the Presidential debacle.

Martin had publicly backed another retired RTE celebrity, the Late Late Show presenter Gay Byrne, but he too withdrew from the race to succeed Mary McAleese.

Speaking from a family holiday in his native Kerry, the 81-year-old O Muircheartaigh said the decision was an easy one to make in the end.

“I decided it was time to end the speculation and to say that I would not be part of the election,” said O Muircheartaigh.

“I had never said I was interested in being a candidate but I think out of respect for the people who asked me and who offered support I had to consider it.

“But all along my initial reaction was that I would not get involved.”

A number of Independent deputies as well as the Fianna Fail party had offered their support to O Muircheartaigh in recent weeks when he was mooted as a candidate in the wake of Gay Byrne’s withdrawal.

O Muircheartaigh also issued a statement confirming his decision to end the speculation about his interest in the Presidency.

The statement said: “There has been speculation for some time that I might consider running for the office of Uachtarán na hÉireann. I wish to end this speculation and confirm that I do not intend to contest the forthcoming election.

“I am honored and humbled that so many people from all sections of society should have contacted me offering support and assistance.

“I want to thank them sincerely for their kind offers.”