Presidential hopeful Peter Casey has received a major boost to his campaign after he secured the backing of two local authorities to contest the upcoming election.
The former Dragons' Den star is halfway to getting enough council support for his name to be added to the ballot paper in the race to challenge President Michael D Higgins.
It comes as artist Kevin Sharkey quit the contest, claiming it was a "circus".
Mr Casey secured nominations from Kerry and Clare county councils.
He also confirmed he was willing to spend up to the cap of €750,000 if he succeeds in getting into the race.
Mr Casey said he was "thrilled" after he received his second nomination at Clare County Council, and he thanked councillors there and in Kerry.
Originally from Derry, he is the founder of US recruitment firm Claddagh Resources.
He recently stepped down from his role as chief executive and is moving to Ireland from his base in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mr Casey said he was a "truly independent candidate" and has pledged that he would "put the same amount of energy and commitment into the role of president... as I have done in every job or business I have worked in".
He needs the support of two more councils and will attend local authority meetings in Limerick and Tipperary today. Councils in Dublin City, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois and Kilkenny decided not to back a candidate.
Separately, Mr Sharkey announced his departure from the race with a Twitter post, saying he was going to focus on his art and a new single on iTunes. The artist, who has received no council nominations, said: "I am leaving the circus."
He described the contest as a "farce" and said he was focusing on new paintings called The Presidential Collection 2018. He has an exhibition opening on Friday.
Mr Sharkey rejected suggestion that his tilt at the presidency had been about gaining publicity for his art.
"If you believe in something, you should stand up for it, and that's what I did when I ran for the presidency," he said.
He also endorsed fellow Aras hopeful, journalist Gemma O'Doherty.
Elsewhere, Mr Higgins' campaign website went online yesterday. It encourages visitors to "join the movement" to re-elect him.
He also reactivated a personal Twitter profile as the official account for the campaign.