Former radio executive and MEP join Nally campaign team


Independent MEP Mr Pat Cox and the former head of programmes with Radio Ireland, Mr John Caden, are part of the organisation being set up to promote the presidential candidature of Mr Derek Nally.

Mr Cox, a former Progressive Democrat MEP, and Mr Caden have offered their services as advisers to Mr Nally, who will officially launch his campaign tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Jurys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Offers of support for Mr Nally's campaign are coming in from associates who know him from his work with Victim Support, the National Youth Federation, the gardai and other activities. A national organisation is being put together.

Mr Nally, who with his wife Joan was campaigning in counties Louth, Galway and Clare over the weekend, said he is now "confident" he will win the presidential election.

Speaking to a group at a weekend course in ballroom dancing at the Irish Countrywomen's Association headquarters in Termonfeckin, Co Louth, Mr Nally said: "I seriously believe I will be the eighth President of Ireland on the 31st of October."

He said the Presidency should be "above politics".

"I can be trusted with the Presidency," he said. "Some people might say I am aged; however, ageism shouldn't enter into the race any more indeed than sexism should. That's why I am a little bit disappointed that this whole question of my male candidacy is being bandied around a bit.

"I feel that there are five candidates in the race. People should look at the five to see which of the five they feel could best represent them at home and abroad, and who can best do the job in the event of a crisis that may occur in the country at government level or anything else."

His track record proved his ability for the job, Mr Nally said.

Mr Nally's election headquarters is in the offices of JF Dunne Insurance in Naas, Co Kildare. Mr John Dunne is a millionaire businessman who is on Mr Nally's campaign committee and who is part-funding the campaign.

The other members of the committee are Mr Jimmy Gahan, a journalist; Mr Jack Keaveney, the general manager of Victim Support; and Mr Michael Bennett, a Wexford-based businessman.

As well as 300 billboard advertisements and the use of a 1997 Mercedes, Mr Nally has been offered the use of a four-seater plane for the duration of the campaign.

During walkabouts at the weekend "the gender issue" and the fact that Mr Nally is not linked to any political party were recurring themes.

"Ah, the man who's split up the Spice Girls", a man in Drogheda town centre said. "The only man we've got," another male wellwisher said.

"The only man on the island," Mr Nally said. He was escorted around Drogheda by former mayor Alderman Frank Godfrey, formerly with Fianna Fail and now an independent.

"I'm delighted to see a man running," Mr Patsy Carbery (73) said. "I'm a man myself, and it was terrible to see four women and no men. That was too sudden, too big a change."

In Dundalk Ms Sheila O'Callaghan (48) said she would be giving Mr Nally her number 1. "I'd prefer to see a man President. He's been working for ordinary people in this country over the years and he has served the country well. And he has white hair. I'd prefer an older man for President."

Asked by a group of men in Drogheda what he would do for them as President, Mr Nally smiled, leaned in close and said: "Not much." There was little point in the presidential candidates discussing issues such as abortion or divorce, he said. The Presidency "is an office above politics. You represent the country with a bit of dignity."

Mr Nally repeatedly told people he could represent the country with dignity and cope well with any crisis that might occur. "It's about which of the five candidates can best be trusted with office."

Asked for his views on that fact that he might be getting an "anti-politics" vote, Mr Nally said he would take votes from any source.

"But if there is cynicism with politics it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. I never contributed to that cynicism. It is the parties and the people in the parties who contributed to that cynicism who should look at it themselves."