O'Meara seeks nomination from Labour


FORMER SENATOR Kathleen O’Meara, who is seeking the Labour nomination for the presidency, has called for a “new proclamation” to be drawn up for the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

Ms O’Meara formally launches her bid for the nomination today.

It comes after former taoiseach John Bruton announced he would not seek the Fine Gael nomination, a decision that leaves the race open to MEPs Seán Kelly and Mairéad McGuinness.

Fine Gael sources are not ruling out others within the party seeking the nomination now that Mr Bruton, who was seen as a potentially very strong candidate, is out of the race.

Mr Bruton said at the weekend that he had discussed the matter thoroughly with the party’s representative and had promised to reflect on the request to allow his name to go forward for selection as the Fine Gael candidate.

“I did so about 10 days ago,” he added. “I said, with regret, that I did not wish my name to be among those considered.”

Mr Bruton said it was a very great honour to have been asked and he would support whoever was selected as the party’s candidate.

He dismissed suggestions that his decision was linked to the controversy surrounding the proposals of his brother, Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton, to cut Sunday and overtime payments for 200,000 workers.

“There is no foundation to that,” he said. “I have been in constant contact with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and on good terms with members of the Government.”

Mr Bruton has left an increasingly crowded race for nominations.

Ms O’Meara said the presidential election would be taking place during one of the most difficult and challenging times in the State’s history.

“I want to build a project, a national engagement, a conversation which would take place in every community in Ireland, asking those questions and hearing from the people themselves about who they want us, Ireland, to be.”

The vision, she said, would be given expression in a new proclamation, to be declared in 2016, the centenary of the first one.

“This would be a new proclamation for a new nation,” she added.

Ms O’Meara said the first proclamation was ambitious and inspiring, but there were many ways in which the State did not live up to it. “We did not cherish all the children of the nation equally . . . and still don’t, and we have had to concede sovereignty in the face of a financial failure, in order to survive and continue to exist.”

Ms O’Meara (51), served in the Seanad for 10 years and ran for the Dáil in Tipperary North. She also worked as an RTÉ journalist, Labour Party press officer and adviser to Eithne Fitzgerald during her time as a Labour minister of state.

She is head of advocacy and communications with the Irish Cancer Society. While she works in Dublin, her family home is in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

Ms O’Meara joins party president and former TD Michael D Higgins and Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay in seeking the nomination, which will be decided on by the party on June 19th.

Those who have declared as Independents include Senator David Norris and Special Olympics chief Mary Davis, who are each seeking the support of 20 members of the Oireachtas or four councils.

Others who have expressed an interest are businessman Seán Gallagher and former European Parliament president Pat Cox.