Gaybo: 'I decided days ago not to run for the presidency'
VETERAN broadcaster Gay Byrne took the decision not to run in the presidential election days before his weekend announcement.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, the 77-year-old confirmed he had made up his mind earlier in the week not to throw his hat into the ring -- but while speculation mounted about his possible run for the Aras he did not go public with his decision until Saturday.
"I didn't decide on Saturday. I had decided before that," Byrne told the Irish Independent.
Now back at his holiday home in Donegal, the presenter said he had been "pestered to death" in recent days to make a decision.
"I completely accept that the campaign process is the campaign process. It's the silly season and the newspapers and media are looking for some kind of story, but I really felt that I was in the middle of a firestorm," he said.
Wishing the "very best to the four contenders, and anyone else who might throw their hat in the ring", Byrne added that his "money would be on" sports presenter Micheal O Muircheartaigh to win the presidency, should he decide to declare.
"He (O Muircheartaigh) is the most popular man on the Montrose campus -- and probably the most popular man in Ireland," he said.
Byrne defended his decision to delay making his intentions clear for more than a week. "Confronted with the situation, and the offer from Micheal Martin, and the poll results and the pressure being brought to bear upon me, I had to give it some consideration. And that's what I was doing."
He insisted he had "no worries" about possible media probes into his private life and financial affairs, but said he "would be concerned" about the impact on his family.
"I would be dragging my wife and my family through whatever we were going to go through for the next two months, and I didn't want to do that. I chose not to do that and it's that simple," Byrne said.
He said he had not been fooled by polls which placed him as the frontrunner in the presidential race.
"I'm not misled by the polls. I think the first poll was on 4fm and that really meant very little because it was a very small listenership and a very constrained kind of profile.
"The Red C poll was a little more confirmatory about the thing but, like somebody said, the race for the presidency is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
"It was going to go on for a long, long time and I didn't have the stomach for all of that."
Asked if he might have regrets over his decision not to run, Byrne said: "None. I am a decisive person. Once the decision is made, that's it."