FG MEP Sean Kelly rules himself out of run for President
A mixture of personal and political reasons were behind the decision by Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly to withdraw from the race to become his party's candidate for the presidency, he said this morning.
"It was my own decision", the Munster MEP told RTE's Morning Ireland. "Serious momentum was starting to build up behind me, but I felt that I could make a bigger contribution to Europe and Munster by withdrawing from the race.”
Fine Gael would soon be starting to do "serious polling" in relation to the presidency, he said, and people needed to know who the candidates were going to be. "The last thing they want is a candidate who isn't committed to the job. My gut instinct is not to go with it.”
Mr Kelly (59), a former president of the GAA, said his father had died in the last month, his mother was living alone and he still had some family in school, and that those considerations had had an influence on his decision as well. He did not rule out running for the presidency in the future. "You can never rule anything out. I'd be in a better position to do it in the future.”
FIne Gael now has just one declared candidate for its nomination, MEP Mairead McGuinness, although there has been speculation that the party might turn to the former president of the European Parliament, Pat Cox.
Mr Kelly refused to be drawn in who he would like to see run. Although he described Ms McGuinness as a "good colleague and friend", he said he would support whatever candidate party headquarters decided should run.
Some Fine Gael sources believe that former Taoiseach John Bruton, who rule himself out of the presidential race last weekend, might still be persuaded to run.