LAOIS-Offaly TD, Sean Fleming has declared that it is more important for Fianna Fail to rebuild before the next local elections, than for the party to nominate a candidate for the Irish presidency.
The Castletown-based politician also revealed that Laois FF members have voted against running a party member in the race for the Aras. Deputy Fleming came into the spotlight last weekend after throwing his weight behind broadcaster Gay Byrne for the presidential office. Speaking this week to the Leinster Express, Dep Fleming said FF would not field a candidate in the forthcoming election so he would offer his support to Gaybo.
“The general mood among the public is that they’d rather have a non-political party candidate. Gay is very well known and respected, he’s not a newcomer, and because of his long career in broadcasting he has his finger on the pulse of the Irish people,” said the TD.
Since retiring as host of the Late Late Show, Gay Byrne has continued as a part time broadcaster but he has also been active as chairman of the national Road Safety Authority, a role which Dep Fleming said he had taken “very seriously”.
“He has shown he wants to do some good,” enthused Deputy Fleming. “Although he’s 77, he’s still very fit and active for his age.”
Deputy Fleming revealed that at a recent FF meeting in Portlaoise, the question was put to the 200-strong attendance whether or not the party should enter a presidential candidate. Following a vote by party members, it was decided by a majority of two-to-one not to run a Fianna Fail candidate.
“The task of rebuilding Fianna Fail comes first. We have to concentrate our efforts for the next local election.”
Although Gay has yet to confirm his intentions of running, Deputy Fleming said he would certainly be the best man for the job and would easily get the twenty nominations required in the Dail.
“If Gay Byrne is in the field, I wouldn’t recommend (FF) run against him,” the deputy said.