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Norris set to fall short of Oireachtas support as candidates look to councils

A busy day in presidential campaign as David Norris’s attempts at being nominated by the Oireachtas appear to be fading as both he and Dana now look set to pin their hopes on local council support.

David Norris
David Norris
Image: Photocall Ireland

Update 8.05pm

INDEPENDENT SENATOR DAVID Norris is now three signatures short of the 20 he needs in order to be on the ballot paper for the presidential election but his hopes are fading tonight.

In the last 24-hours Norris secured the backing of senators Eamonn Coghlan, Mary Louise O’Donnell and Mary-Ann O’Brien taking his total number of nominations to 17.

He now needs three more but there are just two Oireachtas members still to decide if they will nominate him, any other candidate or no candidate.

Ruling himself out today, Thomas Pringle told TheJournal.ie that he met with Norris but that he has decided he will “not be in a position” to nominate the senator and added there would be no circumstances in which he would.

Seamus Healy sent out a press statement at 6.50pm today saying that he would not be supporting or nominating anyone for the presidency – because he didn’t feel any candidate was tackling the following issue:

Despite election commitments, the current government is imposing huge austerity on middle and low income families and attacking public services.The super-rich are not paying their fair share of taxation and middle and low income taxpayers are effectively subsidising them.

In these current circumstances, it is particularly inappropriate to fill a largely ceremonial and expensive office.

I had hoped to support a candidate who would espouse such a position. In addition, I had hoped that the presidential election could be treated as an opportunity to challenge austerity and the EU/IMF deal in an effective referendum.

As no such candidate is seeking election, I have decided that I will not nominate or support any candidate.

TD Shane Ross told TheJournal.ie this evening: “I’m inclined to leave it quite late” to make a “difficult decision,” adding he would make his mind up but it could be as late as next week before he does so.

South Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has told RTÉ that he will make a decision on whether or not to nominate Norris by Saturday. He had previously backed Dana Rosemary Scallon but she will not get enough Oireachtas support to get on the ballot.

McGrath said that he wouldn’t like to be the person to deny Norris and that he “would facilitate the democratic process”.

Senator Rónán Mullen has tonight confirmed to RTÉ’s David McCullagh that he will not nominate Norris.

Calls to Noel Grealish and Michael Lowry were not immediately returned however, McCullagh also reports that they will not be nominating anyone.

Also not nominating are Senators Martin McAleese and Jillian van Turnhout, both nominees of the Taoiseach, and independent TD Denis Naughten, formerly of Fine Gael.

All of which leaves Norris likely to fall short of securing sufficient support via the Oireachtas.

Councils

Both Norris and fellow presidential hopeful Scallon are working on possibly being on the ballot paper via support from local councils across the country.

Both candidates would need the support of four each to be nominated.

South Dublin, Roscommon, Carlow, and Laois county councils are due to meet Monday to discuss motions to nominate Norris and Scallon whilst Kilkenny County Council will hold a meeting on Wednesday – the deadline for nominations – at 8.30am.

Meetings could also be scheduled by Donegal, Longford and Waterford City councils in the coming days with motions to nominate one of the candidates potentially on the table.

There are indications that Donegal, Longford and Roscommon county councils would back Scallon whilst Norris, already with the support of Fingal County Council, would be expected to command support from Laois and South Dublin county councils.

- additional reporting from Susan Daly

Read: Martin McGuinness branded a ‘consistent liar’ by Gay Byrne

Read: Norris and Dana lobby councils to support their presidential bids

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Hugh O'Connell

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