Dana considers run for presidency

 

Former MEP Rosemary “Dana” Scallon is considering an attempt to get on the ballot paper for the presidential election this October, according to her brother John Brown who acts as her spokesman.

“She is deliberating on the matter and is looking at it very seriously,” he said yesterday following Senator David Norris’s decision to withdraw.

Mr Brown said that Ms Scallon had come under great pressure from various elements in society to stand in the election. He said she had gone on a two-week holiday and would make a decision on whether or not to seek a nomination on her return.

Mr Brown said the message was coming through that the people wanted to decide who would be president and they didn’t want the decision made for them by political parties. To secure a place on the ballot paper Ms Scallon would need the backing of four county councils or 20 Oireachtas members.

She ran for the presidency in 1997 and secured her place on the ballot paper by winning a nomination from four county councils.

Ms Scallon finished third in that election behind Mary McAleese of Fianna Fáil and Mary Banotti of Fine Gael. But she was ahead of Labour Party candidate Adi Roche.

She picked up more than 175,000 first-preference votes in that poll, winning the support of 13.8 per cent of the electorate, and expressed interest in running again in 2004 but was unable to secure a nomination. President McAleese was automatically returned.

Ms Scallon was elected an MEP for Ireland West in the 1999 European election, but failed to retain her seat in 2004. She also ran in the Galway West constituency in the general election of 2002 but was not elected.

As an MEP she campaigned strongly against the Nice Treaty and against the abortion referendum proposals advanced by Bertie Ahern’s administration in 2001. The electorate voted No in both referendums but in the second Nice referendum in 2002 a majority voted in favour.

Meanwhile, The Irish Times learned yesterday that Fine Gael is planning to spend up to €500,000 in the presidential election in support of Gay Mitchell, while the Labour Party is planning to spend about €330,000 on behalf of its candidate, Michael D Higgins.

Both parties are likely obtain a refund of up to €200,000 of their election expenses under rules governing presidential elections.

Candidates who win a quarter of a quota, which in the presidential election amounts to marginally over 12.5 per cent of the vote, are entitled to be reimbursed by the State for election expenses up to €200,000.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan piloted a Bill through the Oireachtas last month reducing the amount any candidate can spend in the election, from €1.3 million to €750,000. He also cut expenses that can be claimed from €260,000 to €200,000, saying this would save the taxpayer a significant amount.