Special Olympics chief in Áras bid


Special Olympics chief Mary Davis, who has launched her bid to secure a nomination to contest the presidential election, says the next president must take a highly active role on the international stage.

Ms Davis has written to all local authority members in the country to ask them to support her effort to become an Independent candidate in the upcoming contest.

She said she wanted to be a “practical” president, if honoured with that position by the people, and would work to counteract “scepticism” about Ireland in other states.

“Ireland needs a strong advocate globally because Ireland has a strong story to tell – in Washington, in Brussels, in London, in Paris, in Berlin. It has never been more important to ensure that the voice of our country is heard by those of influence, never more important to have as President a person who can bring the real story of Ireland to the wider world.”

Ms Davis is a member of the Council of State as well as managing director of Special Olympics Europe and Eurasia. Potential candidates require the support of four councils, or the backing of 20 members of the Dáil and Seanad, in order to be nominated. She did not rule out seeking support from Oireachtas members.

She said her campaign would be funded “Obama-style” through internet donations and local fundraising activities. She would be “very much running a grassroots campaign”, she added.

The launch took place in the National Library on Dublin's Kildare Street. Ms Davis spoke from a podium surrounded by the flags of Ireland's four provinces.

Yesterday, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said he would be honoured to nominate former TD Michael D Higgins as the Labour Party’s presidential candidate next month.

Mr Howlin praised the other two nominees who have so far put their names forward, Labour’s former senior adviser Fergus Finlay and former party senator Kathleen O’Meara, but said he would be backing Mr Higgins when the party selects its candidate on June 19th.

“I think that right now he has a vision of Ireland and a vision of the presidency as a motivator of people to restore the sense of self-worth, of confidence that the Irish people need,” Mr Howlin said.

“I think he has a narrative that would be very helpful to us in the journey we have to travel in the next couple of years in particular,” Mr Howlin said.

He said he also respected Mr Finlay’s “huge intellectual capacity” and knew him very well, “but my discernment is for now Michael D is the person I would support”.

Mr Finlay, chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardos, is understood to have the support of equally senior people in the party.

Meanwhile, Independent TD Stephen Donnelly has given his support to Independent Senator David Norris’s bid to secure a nomination to contest the presidential election. “First and foremost it’s because I think David would be a great president, and what prompted me to declare for him early was the many reports I received that Fine Gael were trying to block him.”

Fine Gael has instructed councillors to block the nomination of Mr Norris. Independent TDs Finian McGrath, Maureen O’Sullivan, Catherine Murphy and Mick Wallace have declared for Mr Norris, while Fingal County Council has said it will give him a nomination.