FIANNA FAIL leader Michael Martin appeared to have won the battle within the parliamentary party today when Senator Labhras Ó Murchú dropped his bid to become President and the party decided not to nominate any candidate.
The move effectively ends the chances of Dana Rosemary Scallon and David Norris who needed a critical mass of Fianna Fail votes to secure a nomination.
Veteran Senator Ó Murchú ended one of the shortest campaigns in the history of the state when he pulled out just six days after announcing his intention to run.
Mr Ó Murchú was expected to run as an independent candidate as Mr Martin had declined put a name forward for the party.
He would have needed significant support from independents and Fianna Fáil members of the Oireachtas to get his name on the ballot with 20 nominations. However, the entry of Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness into the race hampered his chances.
In s statement today he said: “Following meetings with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and speculation in the media about his leadership, I do not wish to prolong uncertainty within Fianna Fáil.
“I will not, therefore, continue to seek nominations from individual Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members. In the absence of such nominations, I could not achieve the 20 nominations required. I am accordingly withdrawing my name as a prospective candidate for the office of Uachtarán na hÉireann – an office which deserves our respect and loyalty.”
The Fianna Fail parliamentary meeting took place with the backdrop of last Thursday’s highly fraught gathering when deputy leader Eamon Ó Cuív opposed Mr Martin on the possible nomination of a Fianna Fail candidate.
Today Mr Ó Cuív and Mr Martin were at one over the decision not to allow the party’s 33 TDs and Senators to back any candidate.
The final line-up for next month’s presidential election is now likely to be Michael D. Higgins for Labour, Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, Martin McGuinness for Sinn Fein and Independents Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher. Nominations close next week.