Norris and Dana confirmed as presidential candidates

 

Senator David Norris has secured enough nominations to stand for the presidency following a decision by Dublin City Council to row in behind his bid.

At a meeting of the council tonight, Mr Norris won the backing of 30 councillors, with 6 voting against, and 11 abstaining.

The result gives the Trinity Senator the required four local authority nominations to be included on the ballot paper for next month’s vote. He is the seventh and final candidate to enter the Áras race.

Just hours earlier former Eurovision winner, Dana Rosemary Scallon, became the sixth candidate to be formally nominated to stand for the presidency.

The pair will now go head to head on October 27th against Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, Labour’s Michael D Higgins, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness and independent candidates Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher.

Mr Norris - whose campaign has been shrouded in controversy over clemency letters he wrote for an ex-partner convicted of statutory rape - said: “If I can make this kind of comeback I hope to God as president I’ll be able to help the country make the kind of comeback that it and its people deserve.”

The deadline for submitting documentation to join the race to be voted the State’s ninth president is midday tomorrow.

While Mr Mitchell, Mr Higgins and Mr McGuinness had the firm backing of their parties, the four independents needed to secure the signatures of 20 Oireachtas members or majority support of four county councils each.

Ms Davis, the former head of Special Olympics Europe, and entrepreneur Mr Gallagher - had local authority backing weeks ago.

Offaly County Council today joined Donegal, Roscommon and Carlow to back Dana's bid.

Ms Scallon vowed to be the "people's president" and to uphold the constitution if elected.

"I'm absolutely delighted to have the nomination. My thanks to the county councils without who I could never have done it on time. If I am honoured to be elected president I would be a president for all the people," she said in Mullingar.

"I've represented Ireland now for 41 years on an international stage and I have also been honoured to represent my constituency in Europe," she added. "I believe [the people] know they can trust me. They can rely on me to have their interests to the fore, to maintain the constitution and serve them to the very best of my ability."

Despite topping recent polls, and collecting as many as 18 Oireachtas signatures, Mr Norris was left struggling to secure council votes before being finally given the nod by representatives in Fingal, Laois, Waterford city and Dublin City.

Mr Higgins, a poet and human rights activist, had told Labour party councillors at Dublin’s City Hall not to obstruct his rival’s entrance into the field in the name of democracy.

“You’re a generous, decent and good man and I thank you,” said Senator Norris, as he shook hands with Mr Higgins in the grand Rotunda hall.

“I hope it’s one of us, and if it’s either of us, we’re going to have a great president.”

Longford County Council had also been due to vote on Dana’s nomination but the ballot was cancelled after she secured four other local authorities.

Some councillors attempted to put Senator Norris’ name up for debate but were blocked by the director of services, Frank Sheridan, who insisted official protocol had not been followed despite the Senator’s name first coming up for debate as far back as April.

Mr Norris experienced mixed fortunes earlier today after Cork County Council voted against nominating him.

The Senator, who was nominated by independent David Boyle and seconded by fellow independent Declan Hurley, received the backing of nine councillors, with 20 voting against, and seven abstaining.

However, he later received the backing from Waterford City Council, leaving him just one short before tonight’s Dublin City Council meeting.

Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin O'Keeffe had proposed a motion proposing a nomination for Ms Scallon, but this was ruled out of order as it did not have the necessary three days' notice.

Some eight councils met today while two were due to meet early tomorrow to consider nominations for Ms Scallon and Mr Norris but it is unclear if latter two will now go ahead.