Miriam O’Callaghan quashes presidency bid speculation

RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan has ruled herself out of the race to contest the presidency of Ireland.

Having repeatedly refused to decline to say she would not stand for election at a charity event on Thursday, Ms O’Callaghan found herself at the centre of a media storm yesterday.

Following media queries from the Irish Examiner and others, the Prime Time presenter took to Twitter to outline her position.

She said: “As a journalist, I’m much more comfortable reporting on stories than being at the centre of them. Out of respect to them, and to our serving President, I have always declined to engage in those discussions.”

“However, given the recent resurgence of speculation, I want to state that I will not be a candidate in an upcoming Presidential election. I would also like to make clear that I have always been, and will always remain, independent of any political party,” she said in reference to the links to Fianna Fáil.

She continued: “I’m looking forward to spending the summer working on a landmark documentary about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in the North and the Troubles. Over recent years, I’ve been touched and a little embarrassed when people have approached me at charity events around the country and suggested that I should run for President.”

Meanwhile, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he is “too young” to be President of Ireland, observing he’ll wait “until I am about 90”.

Following a week of speculation about a presidential contest in the autumn, Mr Ahern has moved to distance himself from suggestions he was interested in facing off against Michael D Higgins.

Miriam O’Callaghan quashes presidency bid speculation

Mr Ahern, taoiseach between 1997 and 2008, said he would be interested in the position but not immediately.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner this weekend, he made it clear that to his mind, even if there is a race, President Higgins would be unassailable.

“I think he will run and he will be an elected. Whether there is or isn’t an election it won’t make any difference,” he said.

Mr Ahern agreed that as the incumbent, the President would be the focus of criticism but believes there is no obvious contender who would beat him.

“He would be targeted but I don’t see any strong contender to take him on. Now I have no problem with an election, I am a democrat as you know. If he wants to stay another while...”

Then, in a jocular quip, Mr Ahern insisted he is still far too young to consider a seven-year stint in the Aras, saying: “I don’t want that job until I am about 90. I am too young for that job.”

Known to have harboured ambitions to contest the presidency, his departure from Fianna Fáil in the wake of the publication of the Mahon Report means he would have to run as an independent.

But his comments would appear to give the initiative back to President Higgins, who is likely to make his intentions known by July.

President Higgins, for his part, points to a full programme of events and said he would concentrate on those before making a decision on running for a second term.

“When the time comes at an appropriate time, I will say what it is. I will take everything into account. I will decide what it is how I might best contribute to Irish society at that time,” he said earlier this week.

“I emphasise as well that I did not ever say, for example, that it would have to wait until the ploughing championship next year. I said that by then the information on what I was doing would be available. They are not the same thing.”

Mr Higgins stressed he would not be “an impediment” to anybody else wishing to run as a candidate in the election.


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