VETERAN broadcaster and possible presidential candidate Gay Byrne last night launched a stinging attack on the European Union, saying the country is being run by "mad people in Brussels".
Byrne, who has expressed anti-EU sentiment before, also said the current crisis was a "culmination of my concerns down the years".
"I never thought we would reach the disastrous phase we are at the moment in Europe in my lifetime," the 77-year-old said.
"I eventually thought it would come in my grandchildren's time but it has come much, much quicker that I visualised and it is happening even as we speak."
Byrne, who has been pledged Fianna Fail backing to enter the presidential election, called the euro "a crazy notion from the very beginning".
"We crossed the Rubicon when we joined the single currency," he said. "I think there is no backing out now but it is a mad, mad world and we are being run by mad people in Brussels."
The comments may be embarrassing to Fianna Fail, which is strongly pro-Europe, and will be seized on by Fine Gael and Labour as evidence that Byrne will not be able to build bridges in the EU. FG candidate Gay Mitchell is almost the polar opposite, with his staunch pro-Europe stance.
Byrne was speaking at the Dublin premiere of the musical 'Grease', where he was accompanied by his wife Kathleen as well as developer and music entrepreneur Harry Crosbie. He was asked if his anti-EU views would have an impact in the campaign.
"It might or might not," he said. "I haven't changed my mind."
He vigorously spoke out against the Lisbon Treaty during both referendums and called the treaty "unintelligible bilge".
He also called the 'Yes' campaigns "sneaky, dishonest, under-handed" and said he didn't "believe a word from the mouths of any of the 'Yes' brigade".
But he would not be drawn further on whether he intended to run for the Aras, saying he was still consulting with his wife and family.
He also again insisted he would run as an Independent and not as a Fianna Fail candidate -- and said he would have enough money to fund a campaign, which is likely to cost hundreds of thousands of euro.
Mr Crosbie, when asked if he would fund Byrne's presidential campaign, replied: "Yes I would."
"I think the people love him and they cry out for him in the night," he added. "Go Gaybo, go."
Byrne said he has had "more offers than I can cope with of money and support".
He would not be drawn on whether his wife supported a run, but said she had a greater sense of duty to the country than he, since her parents were staunch republicans who fought in 1916 and got married while her father was on the run.