Dana may get backing of two more councils

Sat, Sep 24, 2011, 01:00

DANA ROSEMARY Scallon’s prospects of running for the presidency have improved further with two more county councils agreeing to consider her nomination.

Westmeath and Cavan County Councils have joined the list of councils willing to meet to consider Ms Scallon’s claims before Wednesday’s deadline for nomination.

Donegal and Longford County Councils are expected to back her at meetings in the early days of next week. With Westmeath, Cavan and a number of other councils also due to consider her nomination, Ms Scallon has a very good chance of getting a nomination.

David Norris also has the option of going the county council route if he fails to get the backing of 20 Oireachtas members by Monday.

With the support of Fingal already assured, he has an excellent chance of persuading three more councils to back him.

Dublin City, Dublin South, Waterford City and Laois are regarded as the most likely, but Kilkenny, Carlow and Roscommon are also due to meet before noon on Wednesday.

Mr Norris may not have to seek support from local authorities if three TDs – Mattie McGrath, Shane Ross and Michael Lowry – agree to sign his nomination papers.

All are believed to be considering their position over the weekend and it should be clear by Monday whether he will be able to rely on their support.

Independent presidential candidate Mary Davis said yesterday she would not be asking any of the councils who supported her nomination for the election to consider supporting other candidates.

This was in light of the fact she has considerably more than the four councils needed.

“It’s not in my gift to free it up. It’s in the gift of the councillors. It’s their democratic right to decide. I’m not going to dictate or ask the councils.

“I’m quite happy with how the councils decide to vote at the moment,” said Ms Davis.

She was speaking in advance of the first presidential debate yesterday at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin between four of the five nominated candidates, on the role of culture and arts in the presidency.

Asked whether she would follow the example of fellow Independent candidate Seán Gallagher, who asked five councils who supported him to free up their vote, Ms Davis said she had worked incredibly hard in contacting, meeting and making her presentation to the councils and following them up.

“I’ve worked for three months on this and, at the end of the day, it’s up to the councils and the councillors to decide who they’re going to vote for when they cast their vote.

“And that’s the way it was in relation to the 12 councils who voted for me.”

Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell said his party had facilitated Independent candidates being nominated.

“I have to go up and down the country competing and since I’ve been selected, all I’ve had to read about other people pleading how they didn’t get on the ticket,” he said.

Labour candidate Michael D Higgins said he had encouraged other candidates into the field but added he had no control over whether or not they got a nomination.

When asked by reporters whether he believed a candidate’s past was relevant to the debate, he said: “One’s life is relevant, what competences you have acquired, what vision you have, how you propose to implement it.”

Mr Gallagher said he would very much welcome Ms Scallon and David Norris into the election.

“I have freed up five of the councils who had nominating motions down for me and I’m happy they’re now back in play to allow Dana and David Norris in,” he said.