Dublin City Council votes not to endorse candidate as Áras race turns farcical

Calls for Áras to be turned into a hunting lodge and for dinosaurs to go on display in museum

Dublin City Council has voted not to endorse any candidate for the 2018 presidential election as the race for the Áras took a farcical turn in the council offices at City Hall.

Six presidential hopefuls were present in the council chamber on Thursday afternoon to plead their case for a nomination for the upcoming election.

However, a theatrical presentation from Norma Burke, the latest candidate to seek a nomination for the presidency, led to outrage and disgust from councillors in attendance.

Ms Burke, who also goes by the alias Bunty Twuntingdon-McFuff, introduced herself as a PR executive and laid out plans to turn Áras an Uachtaráin into a "hunting lodge and spa" where "wealthy guests would pay top dollar to hunt the deer in the Phoenix Park".

Ms Burke also proposed introducing a reality TV show called ‘In Your Áras’ which would follow the daily life of the president.

Addressing the cathaoirleach, Lord Mayor Nial Ring, Councillor Mannix Flynn interrupted Ms Burke’s presentation, which he described as “outrageous” and “deeply offensive” .

“This is an absolute insult to the office of the presidency and anyone nominating themselves for the office of the presidency,” Cllr Flynn said, prompting a murmur of agreement from other councillors present.

Ultimately, Ms Burke was allowed to complete her presentation.

Journalist Gemma O’Doherty opened her speech by paying tribute to “the brave young men and women who are currently occupying properties in the city” and told councillors she was “profoundly disturbed” at the sight of men in balaclavas at the Take Back the City protest on North Frederick Street in Dublin’s north inner city on Tuesday.

If elected president, Ms O’Doherty said she would serve the cause of “truth, justice and integrity” for the Irish people and set the standard for “the sort of democracy we all want to live in”.

“I believe that the boundaries of the presidency can be pushed out in order to stand up and defend those who have lost their voices in this country,” said Ms O’Doherty.

‘Pro-life and proud’

Dubliner Sarah-Louise Mulligan told councillors she would fight to end the abuse of children and the elderly and as a “pro-life presidential candidate” she would donate a portion of her salary to setting up crisis pregnancy centres. “I’m pro life and I’m proud and I shouldn’t be ashamed to say that.”

Businessman Peter Casey said as president, he would set up a programme to bring the foreign-born children of Irish emigrants to Ireland for a month's holiday during which they would visit the Gaeltacht, Northern Ireland and Dublin. Mr Casey also called for the presidential term to be limited to five years and for greater transparency around the president's expenses.

Athlone woman Marie Goretti Moylan said she would use her influence as president to make the collection of artefacts in storage at the National History Museum more visible to the general public. Ms Goretti Moylan, who will begin a degree in law next week, called for the museum shop to be removed so that the remains of a dinosaur could be displayed in the Dublin museum.

Roscommon farmer John Groarke said he felt like a "second-class citizen" while the president enjoyed "first-class citizen" status and called for a Republic where "everyone is equal". In relation to the "housing thing", Mr Groarke said the Government should take note of the "beautiful houses" build by the Amish communities in the United States. "They don't have much furniture but they have beautiful houses. We should talk to them and see how they do it."