GAY BYRNE’S prospective run for the Aras took a local twist after it was confirmed that Fianna Fail have been “bombarding” the presenter’s daughter Crona with phone calls asking her to convince her dad to run for the highest office in the land.
Crona, who lives in Killaloe with her husband Philip Carney from the Ennis Road, Limerick, has been contacted by Timmy Dooley, the Fianna Fail TD from Clare.
“Timmy has been bombarding her with calls. Gay is one of the five people identified by Fianna Fail. He first said that at 77 he felt too old but that could all change as the momentum is now with him,” a leading member of the party told the Limerick Leader.
With opinion polls having the RTE television star way out in front, both Limerick Fianna Fail TDs, Niall Collins and Willie O’Dea, have come out and backed Mr Byrne.
“People want someone who is not too associated with politics and I think that Gay Byrne would be a very good choice,” said Deputy O’Dea, enterprise spokesman with Fianna Fail.
“Fianna Fail set up a committee to look at candidates and I don’t know who they have come up with but I believe that Gay would be an excellent candidate and highly popular with the electorate,” he added.
Niall Collins is also impressed with Mr Byrne’s credentials. “He is the most favoured candidate. I think Fianna Fail would have no problem supporting him or ensuring he gets an nomination,” he explained.
Now the decision rests with Mr Byrne - or ‘Gaybo’ as he is more commonly known.
If Mr Byrne decides to run, he will need a nomination and that is where Fianna Fail could step in.
“He has to get a nomination for President and if that is the case I think that we could do it for him in the morning. I don’t think we would have any problem with it,” said Deputy O’Dea.
While initially he seemed against the idea, Mr Byrne’s latest comments have indicated that if people were “clamouring” for him to take the job, he would have to listen. A Sunday Independent opinion poll shows that Mr Byrne now has 34 per cent of the electorate supporting him, putting him well clear of the others headed by Limerick-born former TD Michael D Higgins on 24 per cent, Gay Mitchell 15, Sean Gallagher 10; Mary Davis 9 and former Eurovision winner Dana on 8 per cent.