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Friday 24 November 2017

'Dangerous souls' stopped Byrne running for Aras

Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

GAY Byrne decided not to run for the presidency after his daughter asked him: "Why would you do this?"

The broadcaster yesterday also blamed "malice-filled, dangerous souls" for ultimately being responsible for his decision not to contest the first citizen's job.

"There sure are some malevolent, malice-filled, dangerous souls who delight in the chance to destroy, undermine and denigrate, what I'd call the 'News of the World' mentality -- do anything for a story, and you end up with the hacking scandal," he said.

Two weeks after he stepped firmly out of the Aras race, Gay explained to the Irish Independent why he considered the presidency.

"We had to give it reasonable consideration because there was a great upswelling of support, overwhelming support and messages coming in, millions of them," he said.

"I'm just very sad that Micheal O'Muircheartaigh isn't running. He would be hard to beat because not only is he respected and admired but he is loved by everybody," he added.

Byrne admitted in his newspaper column yesterday how shocked he was by the level of media intrusion over his past as he considered running for the Aras.

The 77- year-old former 'Late Late Show' host was speaking at the Curragh racecourse yesterday as he judged the Newbridge Silverware 'Search for a Style Icon' competition.


He was upbeat and chatty after a holiday in Donegal, and looked in good spirits as he socialised with the new Rose of Tralee, Tara Talbot, and Miss Ireland Holly Carpenter (19).

Byrne's popularity was clear yesterday as he walked among race-goers with his wife Kathleen and was constantly stopped and asked to pose for photographs.

As the day progressed, he politely declined more questions about the presidency, preferring to catch up on Donegal's score in their tussle against Dublin at Croke Park.

He has a professional reason to be upbeat despite the "deep upset" of his presidential experiences. Eleven years after he quit the 'Late Late', Gay has scored the RTE ratings hit of the summer with his six-week series of Friday night shows, 'For One Night Only'.

"It was a summer filler TV show that came at the last minute. It's been number one every week with one exception. It's extraordinary," he said.

Analysing the groundswell of support that rolled in when his name was mooted for the presidency, Gay said: "I'm too long in the business to overestimate that kind of thing because alongside that comes the people in newspapers who don't happen to like Gay Byrne and write very rude and very nasty things, and the letter writers to newspapers and so on.

"That's the way human nature is, that's the way people are. They have strong opinions. There is nobody in the public eye who is universally loved, apart from Micheal O Muircheartaigh."

Irish Independent

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