Monday 19 February 2018

Count us out: FF refuses to fight Aras poll for first time Reporters

Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin has announced that the party will not run a candidate in the presidential election.

He said that the parliamentary party reached the decision at a meeting today.

Mr Martin said it would be a difficult one for some members to accept, but he also said that the party remains open to backing an independent candidate.

A decision on that would be made in a matter of weeks.

It is the first time in the history of the party that Fianna Fail has not contested and Aras poll.

He added that it was clear to him that in the public’s mind, the presidential election is not a party-based election and people are more focused on the candidates.

A six-person FF committee met last week to discuss the implications of a number of options.

And that frontbench committee made its recommendation to the wider parliamentary party today.

Cork MEP Brian Crowley had expressed interest in securing the party’s presidential nomination.

He reluctantly withdrew week, saying that it was clear to him that the party leadership did not want to run a candidate.

Mr. Martin said today he had spoken to Mr. Crowley during the summer and had said the party would decide its position by the end of August.

The frontrunners in the election, as time for nominations runs out, are Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell and Labour veteran Michael D. Higgins.

And Sinn Féin will decide, within the next week, if it will enter a candidate. Kerry TD Martin Ferris said it was his preference that the party should run a candidate.

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