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O'Dowd quits race to Aras after failing to kick start his campaign

NEW York-based journalist Niall O'Dowd has become the first independent casualty of the race for the Aras.

The publisher announced today that he has failed to get his campaign off the ground and will not contest the presidential election.

"The logistical challenges of running for an office as an independent against established political parties is incredible," he said.

Talks with Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have failed garner enough support for the Tipperary man bid to get his name on the ballot paper.

As a result, Mr O'Dowd issued a statement today confirming he had decided to abandon his electoral plans.

He had indicated he would consider putting his name forward in early June but says he could not financially compete with established parties.

"The race costs about $700,000 [€480,000] to run a proper national campaign. The main political parties can easily raise that. The independent candidates have to raise it for themselves at approximately $9,000 [€6,200] maximum contribution per person."

Presidential candidates need the support of 20 TDs or Seanad members or the approval of four county councils just to earn a nomination.

"It is a complicated system which overwhelmingly favours the big guns in the main political parties such as Fine Gael and Labour," Mr O'Dowd added.

"Bottom line, unless they are completely terrible candidates either the Labour or Fine Gael contender will win the race.

"Quite simply I believe the race is not winnable for an independent, any independent, no matter what the current polls say."