Miriam dumps chat show - fuelling speculation she will run for the Áras
RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan has dramatically fuelled speculation she is to run in the presidential election by announcing she is taking a break from her summer chat show.
Last night when contacted by the Irish Independent, Ms O'Callaghan did not comment on whether she intends to run for the presidency.
RTÉ would also not comment when asked if management had met with Ms O'Callaghan to discuss any presidential ambitions she may have.
This week, Ms O'Callaghan said she was taking a hiatus from her chat show so she could focus on a documentary on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the abortion referendum in May and the papal visit in August.
However, this change has now sparked intense speculation amongst colleagues in Montrose that the mother-of-eight is freeing up her summer to campaign ahead of a presidential election later this year.
"It's all a bit odd and you'd have to say all the talk about her running is serious now," a senior RTÉ source told the Irish Independent.
President Michael D Higgins's term is due to conclude before the end of this year. He previously said he would be a one-term President but has recently hinted he would like a second term, saying he had laid "solid foundations" since replacing Mary McAleese in 2011.
A number of potential candidates have said they would rule themselves out if Mr Higgins was to put himself forward for a second term. However, Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has indicated he will put himself forward because he said it would "undemocratic" to not have a presidential election this year.
The calling of an election would make it easier for Ms O'Callaghan to throw her hat into the ring.
In December, she was one of several names proposed by Fianna Fáil councillors as the party's potential candidate for the presidential election.
At the time, the vast majority of FF councillors expressed a desire the presidency be contested. Other names linked with a run for the Áras include Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly and Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh.
RTÉ star Ms O'Callaghan is planning on taking a break from her show as she has "too much to do and too little time".
"I will be busy with the referendum up to June and then we have the visit of Pope Francis in August and then this documentary," she told the 'RTÉ Guide'.
The broadcaster said she intended to return to the chat show the following summer.
'Saturday Night with Miriam' first aired in 2005 and remains a popular fixture in the summer schedule. In 2014, the show was reduced in duration and segments were pre-recorded as Ms O'Callaghan wanted to spend more time with her family.