FORMER Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) President John Bryan has said he won't run for any other party in the upcoming European election, because he is a long-time "Fine Gael supporter".
There was strong speculation yesterday that Mr Bryan was being courted by Fianna Fail to run as a second candidate in the Ireland South constituency alongside sitting MEP Brian Crowley.
"He is an ideal choice, given his farming background and his Kilkenny base. Just because he had been linked with the Blueshirts, it doesn't mean we shouldn't at least approach him," one senior Fianna Fail TD said yesterday.
But last night, Mr Bryan poured cold water on such Fianna Fail hopes saying he doesn't see himself running on any election ticket for the election on May 23. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Bryan said he would be willing to meet with Fianna Fail but said any such conversation would be "a waste of their time".
"I am ruling myself out at this stage; I don't see myself running on any ticket," Mr Bryan said.
"I have always been a Fine Gaeler, but had to step back from such things given my role in the IFA for over 16 years," he added. "I had to deal with politicians from all parties and none, so going for another party isn't an option."
Given Mr Bryan's decision to withdraw from the Fine Gael ticket, there was renewed speculation last night that Public Accounts Committee chairman and fellow Kilkenny man John McGuinness will be pressurised by Fianna Fail to put his name forward for the European seat.
Mr McGuinness has said he did consider running, but given his role as PAC chairman, he felt he wanted to remain at his post.
But his Kilkenny base, his high profile, and outspoken views would make him an ideal candidate for the election, despite his turbulent relationship with party leader Micheal Martin. Mr Crowley is seen as a certainty for the seat and given the limited number of strong candidates, the presence of Mr McGuinness on the ticket makes some in Fianna Fail think they could take two seats.
Elsewhere, a row within Fianna Fail escalated yesterday as the party insisted it would defy the wishes of sitting MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher and run two candidates in the Midlands North-West constituency.
Fianna Fail senator Thomas Byrne and former junior minister Sean Power, who previously represented the Kildare South constituency, have been named as potential candidates.
Mr Byrne is known to be reluctant, given his previous unsuccessful run for Europe in 2009, and that he is all but guaranteed a Dail seat in Meath East at the next general election.