Wednesday 20 September 2017

Dana in bid for Aras support

Former candidate and Trocaire boss Kilcullen start to sound out senators

Volunteers
with the 'We
Want Norris'
campaign
who will take
to the streets
to get the
senator back
in the Aras
race
Volunteers with the 'We Want Norris' campaign who will take to the streets to get the senator back in the Aras race

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FORMER presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon has been asking Independent and Fianna Fail TDs for their support in a late attempt to get into the race for the Aras.

The former MEP and Eurovision winner has been phoning deputies in the past two days sounding them out to see if they would support her entry into the presidential race.

The Irish Independent has learned that Trocaire chief Justin Kilcullen also launched an appeal to the Independents.

He has written to TDs saying: "An Independent president, working with like-minded TDs and senators, can be a real transforming force in Ireland."

An opinion poll published yesterday showed there was still a massive demand for another person in the race, with one in three saying they wouldn't vote for the four candidates on offer.

Labour Party candidate Michael D Higgins is holding a commanding lead and is outpolling Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell by three votes to two, the figures show.

The Red C poll for bookmaker Paddy Power has Mr Higgins on 36pc, Mr Mitchell on 24pc, Sean Gallagher on 21pc, with fellow Independent Mary Davis moving four points up to 19pc.

The latest poll shows a slight drop for Mr Higgins, with Ms Davis making the most gains since last month.

Even though Mr Mitchell is in danger of being eclipsed by Ms Davis and Mr Gallagher, his spokesman last night insisted the campaign was "not in a bad place" and was "about to step up a gear".

The closing date for nominations is September 28, and the Technical Group of Independent TDs are meeting today to discuss who to nominate.

Signatures

Dana, who lost to Mary McAleese in 1997, has been coy about her intentions to date, with her supporters saying she was considering a run but had not made a decision.

But numerous TDs from the Independent benches confirmed she had been in touch with them in recent days looking for the 20 Oireachtas signatures needed to get into the election proper.

However, one TD said: "I'd be surprised if she got any support".

Fianna Fail TDs also said privately they had been contacted by Dana in the past few days, but did not say if they would support her.

A spokesman for party leader Micheal Martin, who has decided against running a candidate, said Dana had not contacted him seeking party support.

Mr Kilcullen, in a letter to the Independents entitled 'Proposal for an Independent Presidency', pitched himself as a president based on a "vision of social, economic and environmental justice".

But one TD said his pitch was not gaining any traction among the Independents.

Meanwhile, supporters of David Norris yesterday launched a campaign to get as many as 20,000 signatures on a petition to get him back into the election.

The group, acting independently of Mr Norris, will have as many as 40 volunteers on the streets of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo today and tomorrow asking for signatures.

In 1998, an Oireachtas committee recommended that a petition by 10,000 citizens should be sufficient to validate a candidate. Group organiser Ronan Mooney said they had 7,000 but hoped to get it up to 20,000 through their street campaign, as well as through Facebook and the internet.

The group has notified Mr Norris' office of what it is doing but has not spoken directly to the senator about it.

Irish Independent

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