Speculation is rife that Cork hurling star Donal Óg Cusack is considering a bid for a Dáil seat for Cork East at the next general election.
The Cloyne native, holder of three senior hurling All-Ireland medals since 1999 and a former All-Star, has been sounded out about a move into politics following a widely praised speech at the first An Phoblacht Autumn School in Ballyvourney recently.
The 33-year-old, who is open about his nationalist beliefs, spoke about the need for social justice in Ireland at the Sinn Féin-organised event.
“We cannot simply change the Government, prosecute a few bankers and hope that we’ll have a different Ireland. This country’s golden circle has always been underpinned by our pervasive gombeen culture, one with which we are all sadly familiar.
“What I would love to see is a sense of citizenship return to Ireland; that Irish people would cease to be mere economic pawns. That the values of community, of pride in locality, of culture, civic-mindedness, were not just the weasel words of someone on the make, but the genuine aspirations of a people,” he said at the event.
He appeared alongside Sinn Féin vice-president Mary Lou McDonald, who said later that his 25-minute speech had been superb and inspiring.
Since the event, political websites have been speculating whether he would run for the Dáil.
It is believed Donal Óg has been informally approached by Sinn Féin and at least one other mainstream party to see if he would be interested in running in the Cork East constituency in the next general election.
A Sinn Féin spokesman stressed no offer had been made to Donal Óg.
“He is not a member of Sinn Féin. He was invited to speak at the event alongside people such as economist Tom O’Connor.
“We felt Donal Óg would offer something different because of his high profile. He gave an inspiring and passionate speech and it was very well received.
“At no stage has he been asked to run but if he ever did decide to, then we would definitely be interested. The door is always open,” he added.
It is believed that while Donal Óg has not ruled out a run for the Dáil, his schedule is his priority at this juncture, including his inter-county hurling career.
He was not available for comment today.