Aug 13

Byrne claims ‘mad people’ in Brussels are running country (Irish Times, August 11, 2011):

POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL candidate Gay Byrne has expressed concerns about the development of the European Union, saying Ireland was being “run by mad people in Brussels”.

The veteran broadcaster, who revealed this week he had been asked to consider running for the presidency by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, outlined his worries while speaking to reporters in Dublin last night.

“Those concerns are that I think it’s a crazy notion from the very beginning. We crossed the Rubicon when we joined the single currency. I think there’s no backing out now but it’s a mad, mad world and we are being run by mad people in Brussels,” Byrne said.

He was responding to a question about his previous criticism of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty, and whether it might become an issue in a presidential campaign.

Byrne replied that it might but he had not changed his mind.

“What we’re seeing now in Europe, as far as I’m concerned, is a culmination of all my concerns about it down through the years. I never thought we would reach the disastrous stage we are at at the moment in Europe in my lifetime.

“I thought it would eventually come in my grandchildren’s time but it’s come much, much quicker than even I visualised and it’s happening even as we speak.”

Mr Martin told Byrne at the weekend that Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members could facilitate his nomination as an Independent candidate.

Byrne was accompanied to the opening night of the musical Grease in Dublin last night by his wife Kathleen Watkins. “She is a Fianna Fáil person. It comes up through the soles of her feet and she drank it in with her mother’s milk. Does that make me a bad person?”

However, the former Late, Late Show host said he had always remained “absolutely unpolitical” and had never disclosed any political feelings, “and that is why people love me”. Byrne insisted he would not be a party candidate if he decided to contest the election. “Fianna Fáil have very little to do with it. I would be an Independent runner if it comes to that and they’ve assured me of that.” Byrne said he had been inundated with offers of financial support to fund a campaign.

“There would appear to be more offers than I can cope with of money and support and all of that . . . from all sorts of people.”

Entrepreneur Harry Crosbie, who entered the Grand Canal theatre with Byrne, said he would help fund a campaign when asked by reporters.

Earlier broadcaster Pat Kenny, also attending the theatre, said the political class had so far failed to produce a presidential candidate to “trump” Byrne, who would get his number one vote.

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