MOMENTUM is gathering behind Gay Byrne's potential presidential bid after it emerged Fianna Fail will support him.
Senior FF TD Willie O'Dea said today that people are looking for someone who is "not so closely connected with the established political system".
"He would be an outstanding candidate and an excellent president," he said.
The Herald can also reveal that one of Gay Byrne's close friends, Riverdance director John McColgan, is ready to play a key role in the campaign.
A spokesperson for Mr McColgan told the Herald that he wasn't prepared to comment on the matter until Mr Byrne declared himself in or out.
The broadcaster has now revealed that Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has contacted him to express support, despite the fact that there is an "ongoing debate" within the party about whether it should run its own candidate.
Mr O'Dea said his preference was for an outside candidate.
Fianna Fail sources have told the Herald that the party is determined to defeat Fine Gael in the presidential election and that many members view a Gay Byrne victory as a potential Fianna Fail victory.
The 77-year-old has not yet made a decision whether to run and emphasised that he needs time to consult his family.
"They (Fianna Fail) have guaranteed me their support, but I am not a Fianna Fail candidate. I will be an Independent," he said.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said today: "The more the merrier. I think two Gays (Mitchell and Byrne) fighting it out for the presidency would make for an interesting prospect."
Mr Martin's support for Mr Byrne will come as a devastating blow for MEP Brian Crowley. His spokesperson previously told the Herald that he is "hungry" to run but it appears he has little support amongst his party.
See Andrew Lynch, page 14