23/09/2011

Senator And Dana Continue Ballot Bids

Three Irish TDs will today consider whether they will sign Senator David Norris's nomination papers allowing him to enter the presidential race.

As of yesterday the Republic's Senator had received 16 signatures and combined with his own he now only needs support from a further three Oireachtas members.

South Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath has indicated he will support Senator Norris, while Deputy Shane Ross and Deputy Michael Lowry are now said to be considering signing his nomination papers.

Dana Rosemary Scallon is now likely to seek support from county councils around the country, with Donegal and Longford already expected to back her bid for the presidency.

Mary Davis, Seán Gallagher, Michael D. Higgins, Gay Mitchell and Martin McGuinness have already got their names locked on the ballot papers.

Meanwhile Senator Jillian Van Turnhout claims she has been receiving abusive emails and feeling harassed after she refused to back Senator Norris in the campaign.

In a post on her Facebook page and on Twitter, Senator Jillian van Turnhout said she had decided last July not to nominate Senator Norris, and nothing had happened since to change her position.

She asked for phone calls and emails to now stop, saying that while most had been polite, a number had been abusive, and now felt like harassment.

Separately Martin McGuinness Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister has spoken out again about his IRA past.

Mr McGuinness claims that he did not kill anyone nor was he directly responsible for any deaths during his time in the IRA.

The Sinn Fein candidate in the Irish presidential race was speaking following speculation about the role he played during his time in the IRA in the 1970s.

Yesterday, Irish Government Minister Phil Hogan said he did not think it would be good for Ireland for Martin McGuinness to become President, as he carried too much "baggage".

Broadcaster Gay Byrne last night called the former Northern First Minister a "consistent liar" after Mr McGuinness said that "I didn't say I never fired a gun…I was in the IRA. There were battles on the streets of Derry. I've never run away from that.

"But I'm not going to sensationalise in interviews something that could then be used to the detriment of the Peace Process and to the detriment of my colleagues within government."

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: "Martin McGuinness's latest statement that he had never killed anyone during his time in the IRA is amongst the most absurd he has made.

"An organisation like the IRA, the very existence of which was to kill and maim, promoted people for precisely the reason that they were good at it. We are now expected to believe that the man who has already confessed to being the Second-In-Command (2IC) in the Londonderry 'Brigade' of the Provisional IRA became so, even though he never killed anyone."

(LB/BMcC)

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