Sunday 20 August 2017

We had a dream, and the campaign was ours to lose

FIFTEEN months ago Liam McCabe saw Senator David Norris on The Late Late Show and immediately dashed off an email asking to meet him. A week later they sat down together in Leinster House and over coffee they launched a massive people's movement to get the senator elected President of Ireland.

Last week it all ended in tears and acrimony. Some of his most senior advisers walked away feeling they had been let down by David Norris's failure to disclose a plea for clemency he had written on his senatorial notepaper, years earlier, on behalf of his former lover, Ezra Yizhak Nawi. But the man who began the campaign with David Norris did not walk away and on Tuesday last when the senator announced the end of his campaign, Liam McCabe was there by his side, leading him through the media scrum to the denouement. Now he describes the rise of what became, in effect, a national movement of amateurs, professionals and volunteers, some with backgrounds in other parties, such as Fine Gael and the Greens, others who had never been involved in a campaign before. At the end there were 70 men and women working full-time to spread the message throughout the nation and manage the 16 provincial and local teams and those raising the €400,000 necessary to get to Aras an Uachtarain.

Then there was the groundswell of support from the 50,000 fans and followers who cheered on the campaign through the social media. And he tells how just two weeks ago, with their candidate riding high in the polls, Team Norris realised that the prize of the presidency was "ours to lose". But nobody on the team could have known then just how fateful these words were to prove.

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