Presidential hopeful Seán Gallagher is "proud" of his Fianna Fáil roots but has insisted he is an independent candidate for Áras an Uachtaráin.
Making his first public appearance since entering the race, the businessman admitted to fundraising for Fianna Fáil in the past. However, he said the issue, which dogged him during the latter stages of the 2011 campaign, was all above board.
Mr Gallagher effectively claimed that RTÉ cost him the presidency seven years ago by allowing false accusations about fundraising to be levelled at him during the final TV debate.
"I should have stated that night that fundraising is part of the work of every political party, that the fundraising I was involved with was in line with the rules laid down under the standards in public office and was on behalf of the governing party in this country to support their campaign for the Lisbon Treaty."
He told reporters "a dogmatic, repeated, confrontational, false accusation caused me to stumble momentarily".
A Twitter account with a user name similar to that of the official Martin McGuinness campaign, but not linked to Mr McGuinness, said a man who claimed he had given a €5,000 cheque to Mr Gallagher would appear at a press conference the next day. Prior to the row Mr Gallagher had been favourite to win the election. He has since sued RTÉ over 'Tweetgate' and received "substantial damages".
While making a pitch yesterday to Leitrim County Council for a nomination for October's election, the 'Dragons' Den' investor apologised to the 500,000 people who voted for him in 2011. He said he wanted to "honour their trust" by putting his name forward for a rerun with Michael D Higgins.
"What happened in that studio on that night changed the outcome of the presidential election. On that evening, I let myself down and I let you, the members of this council, down and for that I'm truly sorry," he told councillors.
Within an hour of the meeting, councillors from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil placed motions seeking to support his bid. He is all but guaranteed to get a formal nomination when Leitrim councillors meet again next Monday.
Meanwhile, fellow Dragon Gavin Duffy turned up the political heat on Mr Gallagher by accusing him of trying to lock out nominations after securing the backing of Meath County Council.
Mr Duffy also said Mr Gallagher was becoming the "quasi Fianna Fáil" candidate.
He claimed Mr Gallagher was trying to "lock out" a Fianna Fáil vote without even attending council meetings.
"As it approached, he felt he wanted to do it again and then he's been working very meticulously behind the scenes - and Seán loves that in politics, working behind the scenes with Fianna Fáil, you know, trying to lock out nominations without even going to the council chambers and so on," he told the Irish Independent.
Mr Duffy got the nomination with the help of votes from nine Fine Gael councillors, who party headquarters have told to back Mr Higgins "unconditionally".
However, there was some surprise when a number of Fianna Fáil councillors supported Mr Gallagher, who has not made a presentation to the council.
"Actually what they did is they forced Fine Gael to vote and now Fine Gael probably will be voting. So it's true democracy at work but sometimes you can overplay the politics," said Mr Duffy.