As printed in the Irish Times, on June 20, 2011 -

The New York-based publisher and journalist Niall O’Dowd will hold talks with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin to secure their backing in his bid to become an independent candidate for the presidency.

Mr O’Dowd said he has had some “very good soundings” from both parties and will hold further discussions with them later this week.

“The reality is you gotta fish where the fish are and the only votes for me are with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.”

He said neither party will have to spend money on his campaign as he hopes to secure the 20 votes needed for his nomination from a mix of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and independent candidates.

Mr O’Dowd said while the “logistical reality of running against a major party, a well-funded candidate, is difficult” he has taken a lot of “long shots” in his life.

In an interview on RTÉ radio today,  Mr O’Dowd said should he be elected President, he would seek to improve investment in Ireland as part of "team Ireland".

Mr O’Dowd said the President of Ireland can be “a door opener” by talking to heads of corporations in America to create the conditions for “diaspora direct investment” in the country.

In terms of tourism, Mr O’Dowd described the country as a “fantastic brand” but said “we need to get back in the game” and bring more people by improving access to the State.

And he dismissed criticism that he is out of touch with what is going on in Ireland today because he lives in America. "I’m 32 years in America, but every day I wake up, and I work on behalf of Ireland in some form or fashion.

"Over the years I’ve dealt with the other side of the crises that affect Ireland, I’ve been involved in immigration reform for the Irish undocumented, I help create the Morrison and Donnelly visas, when the issue of Northern Ireland came up I got deeply involved from the American end, I was the person who introduced president Bill Clinton to the issue."

Mr O’Dowd said he would announce his final decision on whether he stands or not in the coming weeks.

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time dillying and dallying over this decision, I will make my decision in a week or two as to whether or not I will go forward with this effort,” he said.

Last night Labour selected former arts minister Michael D Higgins by a large majority to be that party’s candidate.

The Fine Gael convention to select its candidate takes place in Dublin on July 9th. Former MEP Avril Doyle is expected to declare her intention to run over the next couple of days and will enter the race with MEPs Mairéad McGuinness, Gay Mitchell and former European Parliament president Pat Cox to secure the party’s nomination.

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