Norris suffers presidential blow after Davis gets support of Kerry council

Tue, Jul 19, 2011, 01:00

INDEPENDENT SENATOR David Norris has suffered another setback in his bid for a presidential nomination after failing to secure the support of Kerry County Council yesterday.

Mr Norris was one of four presidential hopefuls to go before Kerry councillors seeking a nomination for the autumn election.

Special Olympics organiser Mary Davis won the backing of the council by 13 votes to Mr Norris’s two, after all 10 Fine Gael councillors abstained from the voting.

Ms Davis also received the support of Tipperary North County Council yesterday, securing her the endorsement of six councils to date. She already had pledges of support from Mayo, Monaghan, Limerick and Louth.

She also addressed Kilkenny County Council yesterday.

Entrepreneur Seán Gallagher, who has received the support in principle of the required four councils, received just a single vote at the Kerry council meeting, while newcomer to the race Cork man Richard McSweeney, the self-proclaimed People’s Choice candidate, failed to secure any support.

Speaking to councillors at the meeting in Tralee, Ms Davis said she offered something tangible in the unpredictable times Ireland now faces, and that she wanted to be a practical president.

“I strongly believe that we have the power and ability to renew ourselves as a nation. I want to rebuild and repair the good name of Ireland internationally. In my travels abroad I have seen how the reputation has become tarnished. I would like to bring my energy and dynamism to the role of president.”

In order to run in the election a candidate must secure the backing of four councils, or 20 members of the Oireachtas.

Despite securing the support of Fingal County Council, concern will be mounting in the Norris camp that he failed once again to secure the support of local representatives.

Mr Norris received just two votes in the Kerry chamber yesterday morning, from Sinn Féin councillor Toireasa Ferris and Labour’s Terry O’Brien. The pair had also proposed and seconded his inclusion in the vote.

Mr Norris had accepted to councillors from the outset that his views have sometimes been contentious. “I am not asking for your support as president, I am only asking for permission to be allowed to subject myself to the will of the Irish people.

“All my life I have been knocking to be let in, not just for myself but for those I represent. Now again I am knocking,” he told councillors in Tralee. “You have the keys, you can let me in. I ask you to do so.”

There was some consternation at the Tralee meeting that Fine Gael councillors, following the lead of their colleagues in Mayo, took the decision to abstain. Speaking for his fellow FG councillors, Jim Finucane said the party had selected the best possible candidate in Gay Mitchell and were not in a position to give their backing to another. However, they did not want to inhibit the rights of Independent candidates and would abstain from the vote.

Labour and Sinn Féin candidates indicated they were not in a position to propose one of the four candidates for a vote, but all were free to vote as they chose.