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Sport and politics don't mix, I'm out -- O Muircheartaigh

MICHEAL O Muircheartaigh has ruled himself out of the presidential race saying: "I would not be a contender."

The GAA legend had been considering throwing his hat in the ring after a swell of public support.

But the 80-year-old retired RTE commentator decided he does not want to get involved in politics.

"I have never said I was interested in being a candidate in the election but I think out of respect for the people who asked me and approached me and offered support I had to consider it," he said today.

"All along my initial reaction was that I wouldn't get involved ... All sports bodies, I think they're wisely kept out of party politics. I did that over the years," he added.

Mr O Muircheartaigh said he would have had to "enter politics in some way or another" to contest the election.

"The nomination process, that is a political approach you have to take. I decided then that I would not be a contender and it was time to end the speculation," he said on RTE radio.


His choice means that the October ballot paper is now likely to have just four names: Michael D Higgins, Gay Mitchell, Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher.

Mr O Muircheartaigh said the presidency should be open to "all types of people" and the nomination process should be reconfigured to make it easier for those outside politics to run.

In a statement, he said: "There has been speculation for some time that I might consider running for the office of Uachtaran na hEireann. I wish to end this speculation and confirm that I do not intend to contest the forthcoming election."

He added: "I am honoured and humbled that so many people from all sections of society should have contacted me offering support and assistance. I want to thank them sincerely for their kind offers."

He is the latest high-profile name to rule himself out, following the departure of Gay Byrne.

Gaybo had appeared on the point of declaring his candidacy after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin pledged his party's support, but then announced he would not run.

Meanwhile, Mary Hanafin -- suggested as a possible presidential candidate -- said she will not be standing in the Dublin West bye-election.

The Fianna Fail deputy leader, who lost her seat in Dun Laoghaire in the general election in February, scotched rumours that she would contest the vacancy, which was created by the death of Brian Lenihan.

Ms Hanafin said "under no circumstances" would she seek the nomination.

However, she was less definitive about the presidential contest, refusing to comment on the situation.