FIANNA FÁIL SENATOR Thomas Byrne has dismissed suggestions that the party’s senators would be prepared to support a bid by David Norris, should he re-enter the presidential race.
An exclusive report by Jerome Reilly in today’s Sunday Independent indicates that Senator Norris is on the verge of getting his campaign back on track. The report says that Norris will meet with advisers today and that an announcement is imminent.
The report also quotes a senior Fianna Fáil figure as saying that the party leadership would ‘turn a blind eye’ if some TDs or senators gave their support to Norris, and that it would be ‘up to the senators’.
However, Senator Thomas Byrne has said that he is unaware of any support among his colleagues for a Norris nomination. He told TheJournal.ie that he would have been prepared to offer his support to Norris in the past, but that he would not do so now in the wake of the revelations that led to Norris to withdraw from the campaign in the first place.
Byrne also said that if the party is to support an outside candidate, then it will be an official party decision. He said he has been aware of some phonecalls and discussion on the issue in the past few days, but that nothing has been decided or confirmed.
Yesterday Senator John Crown told TheJournal.ie that he would still be prepared to sign a nomination paper for Norris if he were to re-enter the race. Crown said:
As I’ve said repeatedly, I do not believe it’s at all likely he can be nominated, but if he goes forward, I am prepared to nominate him.
Candidates must gain the support of either four city and county councils, or 20 Oireachtas members. A number of those who had previously pledged their support to Norris – such as Luke Flanagan, Richard Boyd Barrett and Joe Higgins – have said that the senator would still have their support. However, as the Sunday Independent reports, he has lost the backing of some of his original supporters.
Last week Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin announced last month that the party would not be running an internal candidate, and that backing an independent candidate would be a possibility. Thomas Byrne told TheJournal.ie today that the party will facilitate the nomination of “any reasonable candidate”, but said that no decision has been made.
A new poll in today’s Sunday Independent has revealed that 40 per cent of those polled have said that they’d vote for David Norris if his name appeared on the ballot paper next month.
The senator’s Twitter account has been fairly quite since he called a halt to his presidential campaign on 2 August, but earlier this week he said that he would be appearing on the Late Late Show next Friday, fuelling speculation that he may be about to re-enter the race for the Áras:
The We Want Norris campaign has been stepping up its drive for the senator to re-enter the race, with more than 7,200 people signing on online petition. The campaign team was also on the streets in Cork and Dublin at the weekend, collecting signatures of those who want to see the Norris’ name on the ballot paper.