21/09/2011

Norris Secures 12 Backers

Independent Senator David Norris has secured the backing of 12 Oireachtas members, just over half of what he needs to gain a place on Presidential ballot papers in the Irish Republic.

Senator Katherine Zappone and TD Richard Boyd Barrett are among the parliamentarians to sign Senator Norris's nomination papers.

Senator Zappone has said she would be backing Michael D Higgins because he is “typically Irish” and would represent the Republic fittingly. But in a last minute change of heart she has signed off on Senator Norris's nomination.

It is understood that Senator Zappone has given Norris the "benefit of the democratic process" after he assured her that no other issues would emerge from his past that could derail his campaign.

The Oireachtas members nominating Mr Norris are: TDs Stephen Donnelly; Catherine Murphy; Maureen O'Sullivan; Mick Wallace; Joan Collins; Joe Higgins; Mr Boyd Barrett and Clare Daly and Senators Mr Norris; Ms Zappone; John Crown and Seán Barrett.

Senator Norris has also got the support of one County Council, Fingal.

He has expressed interest in gaining support from three others: Donegal, Carlow and Longford.

Four Independent TDs and Senators have said they won't be nominating anyone, while six are committed to other candidates.

That leaves ten Independents who are so far undecided or haven't indicated their position.

FF Won't Back Anyone

Meanwhile Fianna Fail (FF) decided yesterday that they would not back independent candidates in the presidential election.

It follows a row in Fianna Fáil over the party's presidential election strategy.

Party Leader Micheal Martin put forward the motion, which was seconded by his Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív.

The news came as a bitter blow to prospective candidates who were hoping that individual Fianna Fail TDs would nominate them.

Election strategy has been an ongoing debate for the party in the last few weeks. Mr Martin met with Mr Ó Cuív in Dublin at the beginning of the week to discuss the party’s stance on supporting an independent candidate or candidates.

This followed Senator Labhrás Ó’s bid to get a presidential nomination which prompted a bitter and inconclusive debate within the party. Since then Senator Murchú has withdrew his intention to run for President.

At a six-hour party meeting, on Thursday last, Mr Ó Cuív threatened to resign as deputy leader if Mr Martin went ahead with a motion that would have prevented Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators from nominating any presidential candidate.

But Mr Ó Cuív later denied suggestions that he was directly challenging the party leader.

The closing date for nominations is this day week, Wednesday 28 September. Presidential candidates must secure the support of either at least four city or county councils or 20 members of parliament.

(LB/BMcC)

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