FF poll: TDs and senators want party to be in running
A MAJORITY of Fianna Fail TDs and senators surveyed are in favour of the party entering a candidate in the presidential race.
The findings of the Irish Independent survey will increase the pressure on party leader Micheal Martin, whose personal attempt to recruit RTE broadcaster Gay Byrne failed.
Some 25 of the party's 34 TDs and senators were contacted yesterday and asked whether they wanted to see their party run a candidate.
A total of 13 said they would like to see the party put forward a candidate, while eight said they were undecided or refused to comment.
Just four Fianna Fail parliamentary party members -- all TDs -- said they did not want a candidate in the race.
They were Timmy Dooley (Clare), Sean Fleming (Laois-Offaly), Seamus Kirk (Louth) and Willie O'Dea (Limerick city).
Despite the support to put forward a candidate, few members were prepared to publicly endorse Munster-based MEP Brian Crowley as their preferred choice.
Only five backed him -- TDs Michael McGrath (Cork South Central), Barry Cowen (Laois-Offaly) and John Browne (Wexford), as well as senators Dennis O'Donovan and Mark Daly.
Fianna Fail Carlow- Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said he would not support running a candidate unless they had a solid chance of winning.
But support for Mr Crowley may pick up if there are no more significant entries into the race. He secured 13pc in a Red C opinion poll last week, putting him level with Fine Gael's candidate Gay Mitchell.
Eight Fianna Fail TDs and senators said they would like to see a representative from within the party run, with only a further two saying that they would support a strong representative from within or outside the party.
Last night, a total of four Fianna Fail TDs and six senators were still unsure about their stance or unwilling to comment.
The undecided members will have an impact on the party's final decision, given that they account for 10 out of the 34 in the parliamentary party.
Fianna Fail Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan said the party should meet and make a joint decision.
The party's six-man subcommittee is due to meet within the next two weeks to decide its election strategy.
Fianna Fail chief whip Sean O Fearghail, who is a member of the committee, said it would be inappropriate to reveal his own opinion before this meeting.
Some Fianna Fail representatives have been quick to point out that current President Mary McAleese was endorsed by the party, yet maintained an Independent status.