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Saturday 10 December 2016

McDonald rules herself out of Sinn Fein presidential race

Sam Smyth and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 10/09/2011 | 05:00

Sinn Fein is moving towards running a candidate for the presidency this weekend -- but it won't be the party's vice-president Mary Lou McDonald.

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And Independent Senator David Norris is expected to give some indication to supporters if he is interested in rekindling his bid to become President.

After returning from holidays this weekend, Mr Norris is due to go on the 'Late Late Show' next week. He is expected to deliver a swan song on his presidential ambitions -- but speculation remains that he could try to re-enter the race.

Mr Norris dramatically dropped out in the wake of revelations that he made representations for his former partner who was convicted of statutory rape.

The senator has been at his home in Paphos in Cyprus since stepping down as a candidate over a month ago but there has been speculation he may re-launch his presidential campaign live on television.

However, Independent TD Finian McGrath, the leader of the Independent Technical Group of TDs in the Dail, said he would not support Mr Norris if he renewed his candidacy.

While it is understood that some Independent TDs are still sympathetic to Mr Norris, he is believed to have no realistic hope of securing the 19 signatures needed for a nomination.

"David is extremely unlikely to secure a nomination at this stage and the best he can hope for is to bow out with an eloquent address on television," a supporter said last night.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Ard Fheis in Belfast today is expected to add to the momentum for the party to contest the presidential election.

Former Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew is favourite to be the candidate. Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald ruled out putting herself forward but added that she believed the party should contest the presidential election. She said she expected a decision to be taken next week.

The party's new ruling body, the Ard Chomhairle, will be elected today and its first task is to formally decide upon the approach.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael yesterday reiterated its orders to councillors not to facilitate the nomination of Independent candidates.

Defying instructions from party headquarters, several Fine Gael councillors have already voted in support of candidates being nominated by their councils -- or else have abstained to allow the nomination go through.

On Monday, councillors in Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork city, Waterford city, Mayo and Monaghan will decide on a motion to support one of the Independent presidential candidates.

Fine Gael said yesterday there was no change regarding its position not to facilitate other candidates seeking nominations.

Irish Independent

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