No official Fianna Fáil candidate for Irish Presidential election

As recommended by the party’s six member sub-committee on the issue, and with Gay Byrne not accepting the invite [and Micháel Ó Muircheartaigh? – Ed], Fianna Fáil have confirmed they will not be putting forward a candidate in this year’s Irish Presidential election.  But they reserve the option to back someone else.  [If anyone will accept that endorsement? – Ed]  You might very well think that…

In the Irish Times Harry McGee adds

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting Mr Martin said that it has been a difficult decision for the party and “understandably there have been different perspectives and position” expressed by members.

He rejected the suggestion that he had handled the situation badly, firstly by approaching Gay Byrne, and secondly by not [being] more encouraging to South MEP Brian Crowley who had expressed a strong interest in contesting the election.

Mr Martin said that he had been criticised in the media for making a direct approach to Mr Byrne. He said that it was “old politics” to use an intermediary and he preferred using the “direct rout”. He also said that knowing Gay Byrne as he did he was aware of the way he did things in a public manner.

“I know that when you make a phone call to Gay Byrne that will happen,” he said.

He said that research conducted by the party suggested Mr Crowley was getting very much a Munster showing (but not strong support levels elsewhere) and he was upfront when informing Mr Crowley about that.

“I am not about playing games,” he said.

When the nominations close in September, said Mr Martin, Fianna Fáil will take a decision at that stage if its will endorse any of the existing candidates, or any other candidate that emerges.