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Sunday 20 August 2017

Dana now 'close to joining race'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FORMER presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon is considering putting her name forward for the third time -- after potential rival David Norris quit the race.

She is on a week's holiday in the US but is assessing her options after a "substantial number of people" asked her to run.

If Ms Scallon (59) entered the contest, it would represent a major turnaround from last May when she said that a presidential run was "not on the radar".

And it is now seven years since she lost her MEP seat in Connacht-Ulster, memorably declaring after her defeat: "Like Schwarzenegger, I'll be back".

Her brother, and former campaign manager, John Brown, said her consideration of running for the Presidency had been prompted by calls from supporters rather than Tuesday's departure from the race of Mr Norris.

"It's something that has been ongoing. Dana has always firmly believed that it's up to the people to decide and she fully agrees with Senator Norris that the keys of Aras an Uachtarain do not belong to the parties," he said.

Ms Scallon, who is known for her strong family values and anti-abortion stance, wrote letters last year to protest at the decision of the Dail to pass the civil partnership bill unopposed.

Mr Brown said that most of the battles she had fought in politics were based on her respect for the Irish Constitution.

"What you see with Dana is what you get. Everybody knows where Dana stands. It's an open book with her.

Agenda

"There's nothing hidden and there's no agenda," he said.

Ms Scallon became a national heroine when she achieved Ireland's first victory in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 with 'All Kinds of Everything'.

But after her career in music, she went into politics and received almost 14pc of the vote when she ran for the Presidency in 1997, coming third behind Mary McAleese and Fine Gael's candidate Mary Banotti.

She was elected as an MEP for Connacht-Ulster in 1999, but lost her seat in 2004.

Ms Scallon also failed to get the support of the required four local authorities to contest the presidential election that year.

She had hoped councils controlled by Fine Gael would nominate her, but party leader Enda Kenny decided his party would not be backing any candidate. That meant Mrs McAleese was returned unopposed, as there were no other candidates to challenge her.

Mr Brown said his sister had not been bruised by this "undemocratic" experience.

She will now have to go through the same process of seeking the nominations of four local authorities or 20 Oireachtas members if she wants to enter the race.

Mr Brown accepted Ms Scallon would have to make her decision by next month.

Irish Independent

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