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Monday 16 January 2017

Miriam values independence too much to run for presidency

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Published 31/08/2010 | 05:00

RTE presenter Miriam O'Callaghan last night categorically ruled out running for the presidency next year.

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Ms O'Callaghan (49) was at the centre of fevered speculation after her name was linked with a run for Aras an Uachtarain.

The 'Prime Time' anchor and chat show host told the Irish Independent her "independence and impartiality" was very important to her.

"I haven't been approached by any political party. I would never stand with any political party, so that really wipes it out," she said.

After being contacted by the media repeatedly about the speculation, the popular broadcaster said she finally decided to "kill it" -- the notion that she was being courted by political parties to become a candidate.

Important

"Genuinely, my own independence and impartiality is very important to me. I've worked with that for all of my career," she said.

Her RTE colleague Pat Kenny said Ms O'Callaghan was "as gobsmacked as anyone else" by all the speculation surrounding her rumoured presidential bid.

Ms O'Callaghan's brother, Jim O'Callaghan, is a Fianna Fail councillor and was a 2007 General Election candidate, but she has no political affiliations whatsoever.

Following George Lee's brief stint in politics, RTE stars are under more pressure to clarify their positions when linked with political office.

Mr Lee ran for Fine Gael in last year's Dublin South by-election, despite the station denying just days beforehand that he would be a candidate.

To end the speculation about her, Ms O'Callaghan also issued a statement through RTE, which left no room for any doubt.

"Miriam O'Callaghan would like to point out that, while she is delighted and honoured that some people are considering her as a potential presidential candidate, she would like to stress that she will NOT be standing for the position, independent or otherwise, in the upcoming election in 2011," the statement from RTE said.

Winner

Ms O'Callaghan was regarded as a potential winner of the race to replace President Mary McAleese.

The presidential election will take place towards the end of next year. At the moment, the political parties are scoping out possible candidates from within and outside their organisations.

Ms O'Callaghan's intellect, her high profile, her presentation skills and her popularity made her an attractive option for candidacy.

The timing of the presidential election will be crucial for all the parties in the build-up to the General Election.

Assuming the present Government lasts its full five-year term, the election will take place just six months before the 2012 General Election.

The parties will no doubt use the presidential campaign to test their organisational strength.

But the outcome will also be crucial for the parties in building momentum towards the General Election.

The 1990 presidential election win by Mary Robinson for the Labour Party was seen as contributing to the 'Spring Tide' seat gains for Dick Spring's Labour in 1992.

Ms O'Callaghan combines raising her eight children with her busy broadcasting career. She is married to TV producer Steve Carson, who is the RTE TV director of programming. She was previously married to the journalist and broadcaster Tom McGurk.

She presents the current affairs programme 'Prime Time', a summertime chat show, 'Saturday Night with Miriam', and a Sunday morning interview programme on RTE radio, 'Miriam Meets'.

Irish Independent

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