Fianna Fáil TD Eamon O Cuiv has officially ruled himself out of the presidential election race, saying he never had any intention of seeking a nomination if Michael D Higgins decided to run for a second term.
Speaking as 10 potential candidates sought the backing of Galway city council and just 24 hours after Independent senator Padraig O Ceidigh also ruled himself out of contention, Mr O Cuiv confirmed he is backing out and will not enter the contest.
Last month, it emerged that Mr O Cuiv had ignored the view of party leader Micheal Martin and met with a number of councillors who wanted him to be Fianna Fáil's presidential candidate.
However, asked about the controversy and his subsequent month-long silence on Galway Bay FM, Mr O Cuiv said he will not be entering the already crowded contest and never seriously considered the move.
"The councillors did meet with me at the end of July, and it was at their request.
"They asked me to meet them and I will be writing back to them, to the councillors, as a courtesy, but I never indicated I was standing," Mr O Cuiv told The Keith Finnegan Show.
"I had a discussion with the councillors, they know the tenor of that conversation, and it was at their request that I had that discussion.
"I said I would come back to them at the beginning of September. I think the circumstances are very clear now, and I've a letter drafted that I will be sending them [the councillors] in the next day to say so," he said, adding:
The decision by Mr O Cuiv to back out of mooted plans to enter the presidential race will be seen as a welcome relief to Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, whose decision not to run a candidate is likely to be raised at the party's pre-Dáil think-in next week.
However, the unofficial support a series of councillors and some national politicians privately gave to Mr O Cuiv's rumoured run has again underlined the ongoing divisions between some section of Fianna Fáil's grassroots and the party's hierarchy.
Meanwhile, 10 potential presidential candidates sought the support of Galway county council on Thursday afternoon in the latest stage of the race to win nominations to enter the contest.
The pitches came as one of the candidates, journalist Gemma O'Doherty, hit out at the fact potential runners have to attend a number of councils on the same day.
President Michael D Higgins' next public appearance will be at the Kennedy summer school in Wexford on Saturday.