Dana criticises 'vile' allegation


Independent presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon is not campaigning today following last night's television appearance during which she criticised “vile and false” allegations she says are being made against a member of her family.

In a dramatic moment towards the end of last night’s RTÉ Prime Time debate involving the seven candidates for the presidency, Ms Scallon said the allegation, which she declined to specify, was about to surface in the media.

Reading from a prepared statement, she said: “It has come to my attention that yet further allegations, this time of a most untrue and malicious, vile nature have been levelled against a member of my family.

“Let it be known that lawyers have already been instructed to forensically investigate a particular communication that spread this vile false allegation which attempts to implicate me and destroy my good character.”

Despite being pressed by presenter Miriam O’Callaghan, she declined to give details.

“We have now been advised that all possible lines of inquiry regarding this communication is being pursued with prosecution authorities in the United States.

“I assure the Irish people that I will leave no stone unturned to expose the malicious intent at the heart of these untrue allegations.”

Dana's fellow candidates comforted her after the programme ended.

Senator David Norris said today he had comforted Ms Scallon after the debate, but as he did not know what her statement was about, he could not comment on it.

The Irish Times reported last week that Ms Scallon had taken out US citizenship, and that her sister had alleged in court during a family legal dispute that a decision had been taken not to inform the electorate during the 1997 presidential election.

When asked if she would consider withdrawing from the presidential race, Ms Scanlon said she did not believe “you should ever give in to malicious intent, never”.

Independent candidate Seán Gallagher defended his involvement in a company which ended up in a dispute over €20,000 in funding it received from a State-supported enterprise body.

Mr Gallagher said “almost all” the money paid to Home Wiring Systems Ltd in 2001 had been repaid to the Louth County Enterprise Board after a settlement in 2009. He was assistant chief executive of the board from 1995 to 2000. He said the memory of George Lee “talking to an empty chamber” in the Dáil had convinced him not to stand for Fianna Fáil in the general election.

Mr Gallagher said he had been asked by local party members in Co Louth to consider standing for Fianna Fáil but the experience of Mr Lee, who left journalism to be elected as a Fine Gael TD but resigned within a year, convinced him that this would not be a good use of his skills.

All candidates said they would have no problem swearing the oath to God on taking up the office. Michael D Higgins said he didn’t have a problem with swearing an oath to God. He said he was a spiritual person and a believer but he didn’t want to impose his beliefs on others.

Ms Scallon said Labour had an agenda to secularise the country and the Constitution but Mr Higgins said this was nonsense.

Mr McGuinness said that as a practising Catholic he wouldn’t have any problem with the oath or with a review of the oath.

Asked by Ms O’Callaghan how he could square his belief in God with his involvement in the murder of so many people, Mr McGuinness replied that was a “disgraceful statement”.

Mr McGuinness said that as far as he was concerned the IRA was “gone”. He said he swore an oath on joining the official IRA but left them after three months and joined the Provisional IRA. He took no oath on joining the Provos.

Mr McGuinness said he had unreservedly condemned the killing of gardaí or members of the Defence Forces. A large percentage of the Defence Forces would vote for him, he claimed.

“If some of the media had their way, they’d blame me for the 1916 Rising,” he said. Ms O’Callaghan asked if the other candidates had a problem with Mr McGuinness’s candidacy, but none said they had.

Independent candidate David Norris said any suggestion he had engaged in welfare fraud by activating his disability pension after he was sick was a lie. He said he had been the victim of an “unparalleled onslaught” during the campaign and had been through a “firestorm” from the media in which stories about him came up every day. Most of the stories were untrue, he said.

Independent candidate Mary Davis, responding to questions about her membership of State boards, said, “no way was I an insider”. It was a “myth” that she was on 25 State boards; in fact, she was on three such boards, and her involvements were with advisory organisations. Asked about her membership of the board of ICS Building Society, she said it “wasn’t a leader” in giving 100 per cent mortgages during the boom.