The line-up for the Irish Presidential election next month has been decided tonight after controversial Senator David Norris and former pop/gospel singer ‘Dana’ Rosemary Scallon both secured the necessary support of local councillors for their nomination as candidates.
Norris won the last-minute support of a key fourth council tonight after Cork County Council and South Dublin council both rejected his candidacy. It was Dublin City Council -- combined with support from Waterford county council, his native Laois and from Fingal (north Dublin) -- which brought him over the line.
Sinn Fein’s Presidential candidate Martin McGuinness had strongly criticised the nomination process, saying the past few weeks had been a debacle.
Mr McGuinness said candidates such as Ms Scallon and Mr Norris should be in the race. He said the people should be able to nominate candidates, rather than just members of the Dublin parliament and councillors.
Labour Party candidate Michael D, Higgins, asked Labour party councillors at Dublin’s City Hall tonight not to obstruct Norris’s nomination “in the name of democracy”.
“You’re a generous, decent and good man and I thank you,” said Senator Norris, as he shook hands with Mr Higgins in the grand Rotunda hall in Dublin.
“I hope it’s one of us, and if it’s either of us, we’re going to have a great president.”
Senator Norris - a favourite of the state-run media, whose campaign had been interrupted by a scandal over his opinions on child abuse - said: “If I can make this kind of comeback I hope to God as president I’ll be able to help the country make the kind of comeback that it and its people deserve.”
‘Dana’ Rosemary Scallon is a well known Christian conservative, beginning her career by representing Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970. She ran in the 1997 Irish presidential election and subsequently was elected as a member of the European Parliament for Connacht-Ulster.
Offaly County Council today joined Donegal, Roscommon and Carlow to back Dana’s bid. She said he was “absolutely delighted” to have the nomination.
“I’ve represented Ireland now for 41 years on an international stage and I have also been honoured to represent my constituency in Europe,” Ms Scallon added. “I believe [the people] know they can trust me. They can rely on me to have their interests to the fore, to maintain the constitution and serve them to the very best of my ability.”
The other candidates include Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael; Mary Davis, the former head of Special Olympics Europe who now holds a number of state-appointed positions; and entrepreneur turned television celebrity, Sean Gallagher.