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Race for the Áras

Three TDs withdraw support as Norris campaign hangs in balance

Three of the 15 Oireachtas members who were willing to nominate David Norris for the presidency have withdrawn their offer.

Updated, 22.24

DAVID NORRIS’S CAMPAIGN for the Presidency has taken a further hit, after three of the 15 members of the Oireachtas who had offered to nominate him for the election withdrew their support.

TDs Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Thomas Pringle had been among the members to initially offer a nomination – but this evening both said they were withdrawing their support in light of recent revelations that Norris sought clemency for a former partner being tried for statutory rape.

Ahead of releasing a full statement on his position tomorrow, independent TD McGrath told RTÉ News that he ‘deeply regretted’ having to withdrawn his support for Norris’s campaign, but that the safety of children and the integrity of the office of President were his first priorities.

McGrath said his decision had been reached after consultation with his own electoral staff in Dublin North Central.

Within an hour, fellow independent TD for Waterford John Halligan also said he had decided to withdraw his offer to nominate Norris for the election to succeed Mary McAleese, which is due to be held on October 27.

“I believe Senator Norris is a decent man and I acknowledge the great work he has done for the less well off in our society, particularly on civil rights issues,” Halligan said this evening in a statement.

However I feel it was a great error of judgment on his part to write the letter to the Israeli authorities appealing for leniency for Ezra Yizhak Nawi.

The office of the President must be beyond reproach and so, after consulting with my supporters, I have decided it would be inappropriate of me to support his bid for nomination.

Later tonight Thomas Pringle, an independent TD from Donegal South-West, also said he was no longer wiling to nominate Norris for the election.

The three withdrawals, which cap a disastrous weekend for the Senator’s campaign, mean Norris can now only count on the support of 12 Oireachtas members to nominate him for the election – a full eight members short of the numbers required to guarantee a nomination.

Norris had been pursuing both methods of nomination – from either 20 Oireachtas members, or four county and city councils – in his attempt to get his name on the ballot paper, but has struggled to pick up nominations from county and city councils – having only managed to secure one, from Fingal, so far.

Other independent candidates like Seán Gallagher and Mary Davis have meanwhile secured nominations from a sufficient number of councils to ensure that their names will appear on the ballot paper.

Earlier this evening a spokesperson for TV3 confirmed that Norris, who was due to present Tonight with Vincent Browne tomorrow evening, had withdrawn from the programme.

Read: Israel and Labour deny plot against Norris as backers consider support >

More: Norris: Who’s supporting him now? >

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