Crown to join presidential hopeful as Norris showcases Oireachtas support


RACE FOR THE ÁRAS:HOSPITAL CONSULTANT John Crown will join fellow Independent Senator David Norris when the presidential hopeful showcases his Oireachtas supporters at the gates of Leinster House today.

Mr Norris has asked the TDs and Senators who are prepared to facilitate his entry into the upcoming contest to gather at 10am in a demonstration of their support for his bid to participate in the election.

Potential presidential candidates need the support of 20 Oireachtas members, or four county councils, to get a nomination. So far Mr Norris has secured the support of just one council.

Prof Crown becomes the eighth member of the Oireachtas to indicate publicly they will back Mr Norris’s candidacy. The others are TDs Stephen Donnelly, Finian McGrath, Catherine Murphy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Thomas Pringle, Mick Wallace and Luke “Ming” Flanagan.

He is also thought likely to have the support of most of the TDs elected under the United Left Alliance banner. They are Richard Boyd-Barrett and Joan Collins of People Before Profit; the Socialist Party’s Joe Higgins and Clare Daly, and Séamus Healy of the Unemployed Action Group in Tipperary South.

A number of Fianna Fáil sources have said they could provide additional support for Mr Norris to facilitate his entry into the race if required later in the year.

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll yesterday found Mr Norris, with 25 per cent support, was leading the race to succeed Mary McAleese as president, despite not having secured a nomination.

The Labour Party candidate Michael D Higgins, who got 18 per cent in the poll, said he was pleased to have proved so “transfer friendly”. He was speaking at the launch his book, New and Selected Poems,in Dublin yesterday evening.

“I’m obviously very encouraged by the poll,” Mr Higgins said. The next president had to have what he described as “inter-generational appeal”, and he said he had received a very warm response from people of all ages as he travelled the country.“What I think the poll did show, and it was interesting, was the fact that people are willing to transfer to me in very large numbers and that’s something I’m pleased about.”

Independent candidate Mary Davis, who now has the backing of six councils, met some Independent Senators in Leinster House yesterday morning. The meeting was arranged with Senators Jillian Van Turnhout, Eamonn Coghlan, Fiach Mac Conghail and Katherine Zappone.

She said she was well-received although the Senators “obviously” had to see all the candidates before they made up their minds. Ms Davis, who secured 12 per cent in the poll, said she was “very pleased” with the finding, “considering I’ve only announced in the last couple of weeks”.

The other hopefuls are Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell (21 per cent) and Independent Seán Gallagher (13 per cent). The poll included Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív (11 per cent). Fianna Fáil has not yet decided whether or not to contest but Mr Ó Cuív has said the party should have a candidate leading to speculation that he was himself interested.