Nomination papers for Michael D Higgins submitted

O’Doherty nominated for presidential bid by Laois authority but falls short of required four

It appears likely that voters will have six candidates to choose from on October 26th. Political correspondent Harry McGee reports.

 

Presidential election nomination papers for President Michael D Higgins were submitted at the Custom House in Dublin on Monday.

Candidates seeking to contest the presidential election must secure the backing of four local authorities, or 20 TDs and Senators. As the incumbent, President Higgins can and has nominated himself to run for re-election.

His nomination papers were submitted by his authorised representative Art O’Leary, Secretary General to the President, who was accompanied by the President’s election agent, Conor Power, SC.

The President will formally launch his re-election campaign in Dublin city centre on Wednesday.

“Since entering office as President in 2011, I have been honoured to serve Ireland and its people. I have dedicated myself to each aspect of the role from the constitutional responsibilities and representation of our nation at home and abroad, to those wider conversations and connections which I have, as President, been able to develop and deepen,” he said in a statement.

“I have sought to honour the many strands of our history, while also articulating a vision of a real Republic where the rights, equality, creativity and the participation of all are valued, encouraged and celebrated.

Presidential hopeful Gemma O’Doherty has received her first nomination. Photo Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times
Presidential hopeful Gemma O’Doherty has received her first nomination. Photo Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

“At this important time for our nation I am once again offering to serve, and I am asking the people of Ireland to place their confidence in me.

“The President of Ireland must have experience, judgement, understanding and empathy, as well as a vision for our nation and its communities. In the forthcoming campaign, I will outline my vision for Ireland’s future, and my proposals for further encouraging participation, promoting equality, and deepening Ireland’s relationships with our neighbours, near and far, in a challenging international environment.

“I am very much looking forward to an active campaign, which I hope will be driven by ideas and values so that citizens can make an informed choice on 26th October.” Meanwhile, journalist Gemma O’Doherty has failed to secure the required nominations from four local authorities to contest the presidential election next month.

Laois County Council voted to nominate Ms O’Doherty after a meeting on Monday morning. Four councillors voted in favour of nominating the former Independent News and Media journalist, and 11 abstained from the vote.

However, her hopes of getting her presidential nomination suffered a significant blow when Cork County Council voted overwhelmingly not to nominate her. Five councillors voted in favour of her nomination, 28 voted against the motion, and six abstained.

A motion to nominate Ms O’Doherty had been put forward by Independent Cllr Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, who said the result of the vote was “very disappointing.”

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, who have 17 and 16 councillors respectively on the 55-member body, voted against supporting Ms O’Doherty as did Labour’s sole councillor and a number of Independents while Sinn Féin, which has seven councillors, abstained.

Ms O’Doherty received votes from Cllr Ó Cadhla, and fellow Independents Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Cllr Ger Keohane and Cllr Alan Coleman as well as from Social Democrat Cllr Joe Harris.

In separate meetings Kildare, Sligo and Donegal county councils also chose not to nominate any candidate for the race. This means there is not enough uncommitted local authorities remaining to provide any more candidates with the required four nominations.

Five other candidates have secured places on the ballot; Dragons’ Den panellists Seán Gallagher, Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, and Independent Senator Joan Freeman – who all went through the local authority route. Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada secured her spot on the ballot through the support of 20 Oireachtas members from her party.

In a post on Twitter following the nomination of Laois County Council, Ms O’Doherty said she was “delighted” to receive a nomination. “Thanks to all of the councillors who supported me. Laois has shown itself to be a democratic county,” she said.

Sligo County Council met at 9.30am, but motions to nominate Mr Gallagher and Mr Casey were withdrawn, as both men had already secured places on the ballot.

Donegal County Council held a meeting at 11am, but no motion was listed proposing any individual for a nomination, and following a discussion the council did not back any candidate to enter the race.

Kildare County Council held a special meeting at 12.30pm to vote on the issue, with motions to nominate Ms O’Doherty and Mr Gallagher on the agenda. However, the council voted against nominating any candidate.

A separate effort by a group of 19 TDs and Senators to facilitate a candidate contesting the race failed to materialise, after the group of Independent and non-aligned Oireachtas members failed to agree on a voting system to nominate a candidate.