No support in Fianna Fáil for Áras run from Norris


THERE IS no prospect of Fianna Fáil backing Senator David Norris for president or facilitating his return to the election campaign by giving him a nomination, according to senior party sources.

Despite reports that Mr Norris is set to re-enter the contest he left in controversial circumstances in July, there was little evidence yesterday that he could muster the support of 20 Oireachtas members to sign his papers.

Senator Norris is due to appear on next Friday’s Late Late Show, where he may announce his intention to rejoin the race, a Sunday newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr Norris could not be contacted yesterday and was not at his Dublin home. Former members of his campaign team have not returned calls over recent days.

Before he dropped out of the race because of controversy over his intervention in a rape case in Israel, the TCD Senator had the support of most of the Independent TDs.

However, Independents such as Finian McGrath and Catherine Murphy have withdrawn support and say that will not change.

This means that the Senator would have to seek the support of another political bloc in the Oireachtas, most probably Fianna Fáil as it is not running a candidate.

However, party sources said this was unlikely. One said that Mr Norris had been arrogant in his approach to the party earlier in the summer, when he needed only a few nominations. Another described his possible re-emergence as a candidate as a “distraction” which was “of no concern” to the party.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said the party’s position was that it had decided not to run a candidate. Once the nominations were in, it would look at those running and then decide whether to support a particular candidate. He said the question of facilitating a candidate by nominating the person was not an issue for Fianna Fáil because no one had contacted the party to seek such support.

Mr Norris could secure a nomination by obtaining the support of four county councils, but he was unsuccessful in this approach earlier in the year. Time is also running out for putting down motions at local authorities, which meet only once a month. Many councils have already promised their nomination to other candidates.

Former senator Eoghan Harris said Mr Norris should re-enter the race and claimed he would get support from some within Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Meanwhile, Independent candidates Seán Gallagher and Mary Davis are expected to pass the threshold of four nominations from county councils after a large number of local authorities consider the issue at meetings today.

Ms Davis is expected to secure the nomination of six councils: Monaghan, Kerry, Mayo, Waterford county, Wicklow and Galway city.

Mr Gallagher is also set to get support from six councils: Carlow, Wexford, Cork city, Clare, Cavan and Waterford city.

Both candidates already have two nominations apiece, so after today they will have more nominations than they need. It is not clear what happens with their excess nominations and in particular, whether the councils involved could switch their nomination to another candidate. However, given that there is less than three weeks to the close of nominations, such a scenario is highly unlikely.

Resolutions to nominate candidates have been tabled by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for tonight’s meeting.

Ms Davis has been nominated twice, while Fine Gael councillors have nominated Gay Mitchell, and the Labour group has nominated its candidate Michael D Higgins.