herald

Monday 19 August 2019

Councillors now set to drop support for Norris battle to be president

THE ONLY local authority to have backed David Norris' bid for the presidency appears ready to backtrack on its decision.

Fingal councillors told the Herald that their support for the Independent senator is by no means assured, having agreed to hear from other potential candidates.

The news comes as Mr Norris (67) urged TDs and senators to gather at the gates of Leinster House this morning to demonstrate their support.

It was assumed Mr Norris had secured the nomination from Fingal as its members voted in May to back him.

But that decision is now in danger of being overturned -- despite the Joycean scholar leading the polls.

The Mayor of Fingal, Gerry McGuire (Lab), has called a special meeting in September following requests from two other possible nominees to address the chamber.



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And Mr McGuire said "nothing final has been determined" regarding the nomination.

"Until such a time the (election) order is put down, we cannot nominate anyone. (The other candidates) are entitled to be heard as well," he said.

The furore surrounding an old interview given by the senator may have led to a change in heart among some members, according to Fine Gael Councillor Kieran Dennison.

"Senator Norris was nominated in May before his reminiscences of the golden days of ancient Greece became public again.

"There is no guarantee that those who supported him before will do so again in September," he said.

Mr Norris must get the support of at least four county councils, or 20 Oireachtas members, before he can be declared a runner.

The convention has been that local authorities nominate a candidate -- as Fingal did in May -- and then confirm their choice when the election order is made.

It is extremely rare for a council not to rubber stamp its initial decision.

But Cllr Dennison said: "In the interests of democracy, I think all prospective candidates should be invited to address the councillors before a final decision is made."

He added: "Some of those (who supported Mr Norris) could have lost their enthusiasm for him. Others may change their minds when they hear from the rest of the candidates."

Labour councillor Ken Farrell said he and his colleagues had not been aware that they could not nominate a candidate before the presidential election order was made.

Potential nominees Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher are among those expected to address Fingal in September.

The latest opinion poll showed Mr Norris out ahead on 25pc of the vote, with Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell (21pc) and Labour's Michael D Higgins (18pc) trailing.

comurphy@herald.ie

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