Norris fails to secure backing of South Dublin authority


Senator David Norris's bid to enter the presidential race suffered another setback this evening when South Dublin County Council voted by 12-11 not to support his nomination.

The South Dublin authority had been expected to support Mr Norris in his quest to become an official candidate in the upcoming election.

The Trinity College Dublin Senator earlier secured the support of his home county Laois by seven votes to four.

Mr Norris, who also has the backing of Fingal County Council, remains two short of the four needed to enter the race. Despite the setback, an upbeat Mr Norris remained confident of getting another two local authorities on board.

“It was very close, I wish the one vote had gone the other way but that’s local democracy,” he said. “There will be another day. I believe I will get enough to get in.”

Rival candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon today secured the backing of two councils, Carlow and Roscommon.

Carlow County Council decided to back Ms Scallon instead of Mr Norris at its meeting earlier this afternoon.The council's chairman, Thomas Kinsella of Fine Gael, used his casting vote against the Senator after the vote was tied at 5-5. Four Fianna Fáil councillors voted against Mr Norris while Labour's Des Hurley abstained.

Later, Roscommon County Council voted to back Ms Scallon, taking her half way to the necessary four local authorities. The council voted 12 in favour of Ms Scallon, with 13 members abstaining and one councillor not present for the vote.

Both presidential hopefuls are dependent on securing at least four nominations from councils in order to become candidates in the election on October 27th.

Waterford City is considered as the most likely council to back Mr Norris while Ms Scallon is expected to receive the backing of Westmeath, Cavan, Donegal and Longford County Councils. She was backed by Donegal and Longford county councils in her previous bid for the Áras back in 1997.

Elsewhere, Limerick County Council today formally gave its backing to Independent candidate Mary Davis.

Speaking after he secured the backing of Laois County Council, Mr Norris said again that he had no intention of publishing any further letters sent in 1997 seeking clemency for his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was committed of statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy. "The issue has been dealt with,” he said.

Mr Norris said he wanted to move on and deal with the "real issues" confronting the country. He also said he believed the people of Ireland wanted someone like him who had come through difficult times to be president. “I hope this isn’t going to be a dirty campaign. All this stuff came out and the people of Ireland, the opinion polls have shown, are intelligent enough to make up their own mind. I’m going to allow them to make up their own mind.”

Candidates need a minimum of 20 Oireachtas members or four county councils to nominate them before they can stand in the election.

Mr Norris's bid for candidacy suffered a setback yesterday when the election workers of South Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath voted against nominating him.

Mr Norris has the support of 18 TDs and Senators. The latest to back him was Independent Dublin South TD Shane Ross, who is a former senatorial colleague on the Trinity College panel.

Council meetings scheduled for today:

Laois County Council: 11am (Council votes to back Senator Norris)

Carlow County Council: 1pm (Council votes to back Dana Rosemary Scallon)

Roscommon County Council: 2.30pm (Council votes to back Dana Rosemary Scallon)

Limerick County Council: 2.30pm (Council votes to back Mary Davis)

South Dublin County Council: 5.15pm (Council votes against backing Senator Norris)

Tomorrow's meetings:

Donegal County Council: 10am

Waterford City: 1pm

Westmeath: 2pm

Longford County Council: 4pm

Dublin City Council: 6.45pm

Cavan: 7pm

Wednesday's meetings

Kilkenny County Council: 8.30am