The two-time All Ireland winner will contest the seat vacated by the former Irish rugby international Jim Glennon, who announced last month that he would not seek re-election.
Mr O’Leary’s candidacy was announced by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who acknowledged that while the Dublin All-Star is a newcomer to the political arena, he had made significant contributions to community activity in north county Dublin.
At the announcement of his addition to the Fianna Fáil ticket in Swords, Co Dublin yesterday, Mr O’Leary said he had considered the offer of running as a Fianna Fáil candidate over a period of time before accepting the challenge.
He joins a growing list of high-profile personalities who were canvassed by political parties to run in next year’s general election.
Former Galway manager John O’Mahony is to run as a Fine Gael candidate and One in Four director Colm O’Gorman is to contest the election for the Progressive Democrats.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Dr Jim McDaid, has said that the failure of Fianna Fáil headquarters to adequately assess the future of the party in Donegal could result in Sinn Féin returning two candidates at the next election.
Dr McDaid announced his retirement from politics earlier this year but changed his mind and declared that he would seek a nomination because of the likelihood that there would be no Letterkenny candidate.
In an interview on RTE’s Today with Pat Kenny, Dr McDaid said the decision to run the Independent TD Harry Blaney as a Fianna Fáil candidate was an act of symbolism which was working to the detriment of the organisation.
He said a letter delivered to Fianna Fáil cumann groups on Wednesday ordering all Fianna Fáil and Independent Fianna Fáil groups to amalgamate was designed to ensure he did not win the election nomination. “If we are going to get three seats out of five seats, then in my opinion, the candidate has to be in the Letterkenny area which has 60% of the population,” he said.
Dr McDaid reasoned that when Donegal becomes a five-seat constituency, it would prove difficult for Fianna Fáil to win two or three seats.
“The way it’s been handled, it’s going to be quite a carnage in the future when Donegal becomes a five-seater.”
He concluded that he wished to remain within the Fianna Fáil organisation and retain his seat and that the “simple solution” was to run the three sitting TDs.