Éamon Ó Cuív will not be a Fianna Fáil candidate to become President and the party will not be changing its mind to allow him to stand for the election.
Should he decide to run, he will have to stand as an Independent candidate and be nominated by local authorities, it emerged yesterday.
The party made clear that, despite “rumblings within the organisation” calling for Mr Ó Cuív to be allowed stand, its position will not alter.
Speaking at Leinster House yesterday, the party’s transport spokesman Robert Troy criticised Mr Ó Cuív’s call to be allowed to stand as he declined to make a pitch to seek the post at two meetings.
“Nobody is clambering over me for us to contest the position. A decision has been taken by the front bench and referred to the parliamentary party and a decision was taken not to contest the position of President,” said Mr Troy.
“It is interesting to note that Éamon Ó Cuív was at both meetings and at no stage did he voice an opinion that he would like to contest the presidential election. That discussion has taken place and we will not be revisiting it,” he said.
When pressed as to whether Mr Ó Cuív would be blocked from standing, Mr Troy said it is open to four councils to nominate a candidate if they so wish.
He also said that if Mr Ó Cuív, who is TD for Galway West, decided to “go down that route” then he would have to stand as an Independent candidate and he would not have the backing of the party.
“If Éamon Ó Cuív decides to go down that route he will not be standing as a Fianna Fáil candidate because the party will not be standing a candidate,” he said.
Meanwhile, the chair of the Dáil’s spending watchdog has dismissed concerns from his own committee members over his calls for it to review spending in the office of the President.
Sean Fleming said that, were the committee to agree to examining the spending at Áras an Uachtaráin, it would have to do it quickly when the Dáil returns to avoid contaminating the pending race.
But he said there is a public interest in examining the accounts.
“People would not be happy if a discussion took place after the race and information came to light that people feel they would like beforehand,” he said.
“The expenditure of the Áras is about €7m and queries are beyond the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. It is within the remit of the PAC.
“Certainly not the President but it would be the secretary general of the Department of An Taoiseach who would interact with us,” he said.
However, Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, Peter Burke, did express concern that any such review could be seen as “politically motivated and designed for political reasons”.
Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien also expressed concern that taking on this examination could lead to other important matters being “bumped off” the agenda of the committee.