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Seán Gallagher has asked three county councils to Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Race for the Áras

Davis will not follow Gallagher's lead of asking councils to drop support

Seán Gallagher has asked three councils to withdraw their support, so that they can nominate others – but Mary Davis won’t.

MARY DAVIS has said she will not follow Seán Gallagher’s lead of asking some county councils to withdraw their support for her nomination – saying council nominations are an ‘opportunity to share her vision’ for the Presidency.

Gallagher this morning said he was asking the three councils which had already passed statements of intent to support him – Roscommon, Donegal and Longford  - to withdraw their support for him, so that they would then be free to nominate any other candidate who might seek to run.

Gallagher yesterday secured the nomination of his fourth county council – meaning that he is already guaranteed a place on the ballot paper for next month’s election, and does not need the support of councils which had already pledged to nominate him.

“I don’t want to block the access for any other candidates who might emerge and who might seek to use the county council route to get on the ballot paper,” Gallagher told Morning Ireland.

He later issued a statement explaining:

It would not be in the best interests of democracy or choice to pursue votes in my favour at other councils as it will restrict access by other potential candidates who may wish to get on the ballot paper via the local authority route. A council can only nominate one candidate.

This afternoon, however, fellow independent candidate Mary Davis – who secured her spot on the ballot paper yesterday, and finished the day with the nomination of ten councils – said she would not be doing likewise.

Davis, like Gallagher, also had three councils who had pledged their support for her but who had not yet passed a full motion to nominate her – but a spokeswoman for the Mayo woman said she would not ask the councils to back someone else.

“Mary Davis will visit Councils who have invited her and still expect to see her. Mary does not see meeting Councillors as a means to securing a nomination only,  and then having done so,  ignoring them,” her spokeswoman said, explaining:

Instead she sees it as an opportunity to share her vision and objectives for the Presidency and to engage directly with local representatives who experience at first hand the challenges facing communities across the country.

Electoral maths

Electoral law does not allow for a council to withdraw its support for a candidate once a motion has formally been passed; such motions are not binding, however, if they are passed before an election is officially called.

A polling order for the election was only issued on August 30 – meaning councils which voted to support any candidate before that date are still free to nominate any candidate they like.

If Davis had asked her three other councils – Louth, North Tipperary and Limerick county – to withdraw their support, the two candidates would have ‘released’ a total of six potential nominations for other aspiring candidates.

All six of those councils are to hold their next monthly meetings in the next two weeks – meaning any other interested party could potentially still secure a nomination before the closing date of Wednesday 28 September.

Four of the councils – Roscommon, Longford, Louth and North Tipperary – are to meet next Monday. Any candidate still looking for a full nomination could, in theory, secure their place on the ballot paper within a week.

As it is, Davis is likely to secure at least 13 council nominations, and could still take more – she is scheduled to address the monthly meeting of South Dublin County Council, seeking its backing, this afternoon.

With Gallagher taking another four, it remains possible – though difficult – for another outside candidate to secure backing from four of the 16 other county and city councils, though some of those councils will not be meeting again before the deadline for nominations in 15 days’ time.

More: FF blocks members from one-off Norris support >

Read: Adams says Sinn Féin looking at ‘three or four’ internal candidates for Áras >

In full: TheJournal.ie’s coverage of the Race for the Áras >

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