Tuesday 17 October 2017

David Norris to make last-ditch bid to become next President

Senator to address Independents in search of fresh support for run

David Norris: seeking
support of Independents
David Norris: seeking support of Independents

Fiach Kelly and Fionnan Sheahan

INDEPENDENT Senator David Norris will today make a last-ditch attempt to garner enough support to relaunch his presidential election bid.

Mr Norris will address Independent TDs and senators amid intense speculation that he will try to persuade them to help him secure a nomination in the race for the Aras.

Before he dramatically withdrew from the contest a month ago, the senator's support came from the ranks of Independent TDs and senators.

However, his campaign effectively ended when a string of non-party deputies withdrew their support after it emerged he wrote a letter to Israeli authorities seeking clemency for his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was convicted for raping a 15-year-old boy.

But a number of Independents are still believed to be willing to nominate him and Mr Norris has added new supporters, with Joe Higgins's United Left Alliance ready to throw their weight behind him.

"I can only assume he's trying to get back in the race," one Independent TD last night said.

"Sure why else would he ask to meet us?"

One of those TDs last night said he would not be switching his support back to Mr Norris, although at least 10 TDs and senators are known to be willing to still support him.

Mr Norris may still fall short and require the backing of a number of Fianna Fail TDs or senators.

This scenario is complicated by Fianna Fail Senator Labhras O Murchu confirming last night he is considering running as an Independent candidate.

Mr O Murchu said he believed he had the support of up to 17 Fianna Fail and Independent TDs and senators to secure a nomination.

And the Irish Independent has also learned that Trocaire chief Justin Kilcullen withdrew from the race late last night.

Mr Kilcullen was due to address the meeting of Independent TDs and senators in Leinster House today, but he cancelled last night and told deputies he was withdrawing from the contest.

Independent candidate Mary Davis -- who has already secured her place on the ballot paper after getting the support of 10 county councils, six more than needed -- has also asked to address the TDs, hoping to secure their support.

Today's meeting had originally been arranged to allow Ms Davis and Mr Kilcullen make their cases, and Mr Norris's backers yesterday asked if he could be included.

Position

Following the withdrawal of Mr Kilcullen, only Mr Norris and Ms Davis will address the meeting from around noon today.

The Trinity senator's supporters have been claiming he has the support of 15 Oireachtas members, five short of the 20 needed to get on the ballot paper.

Mr Norris is also due to appear on 'The Late Late Show' tomorrow night, when he is expected to make his position on the presidency clear.

Mr Norris gave no indication yesterday of his plans for the presidential election yesterday as he returned to work in the Seanad.

He was back in the public spotlight for the first time since his dramatic withdrawal from the presidential election contest and appeared in good spirits as he arrived into Leinster House at lunchtime ahead of the new Seanad session.

Although he made his trademark contribution to the debate in the chamber, he made no reference to his intentions as speculation continues to mount about his possible re-entry to the race. "Like my colleagues I am very glad to be back and I look forward to our serious work," he said.

Irish Independent

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