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Saturday 24 March 2018

Backers demanding clarity over advisers' resignations


TDS and senators who had previously declared their support for David Norris's presidential bid were last night seeking "immediate clarification" from him over the controversy engulfing his campaign. Several supporters, including senators John Crown and DCU lecturer Mary Louise O'Donnell, called on Mr Norris to clarify exactly what is going on .

Speaking yesterday to this newspaper, Prof Crown said he was seeking some form of statement from Mr Norris as to what exactly caused the resignation of two of his senior campaign advisers.

"My commitment to prevent a political party from not allowing the people have their say on David Norris stands, but certainly I am calling for clarification as to what is going on within his campaign," he added.

Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Maureen O'Sullivan said yesterday they were still supporting his candidacy.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Ms O'Sullivan said: "My support for David Norris was in respect to his long record on human rights. That support remains. I have read the newspapers this morning but as of now I am maintaining that support."

Mr Wallace said, as things stood, he still supported Mr Norris. His comments echoed similar signs of support from Donegal independent TD Thomas Pringle and Senator Sean Barrett, of TCD.

Independent TDs Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Finian McGrath said they had no comment at this stage. Other declared supporters like independent TDs Stephen Donnolly, Catherine Murphy and John Halligan were not available for comment yesterday.

It is also understood Fianna Fail senators will not be offering their support to ensure Mr Norris gets on the ticket. There had been speculation that they could facilitate the senator, but it has emerged that the group of FF senators met last week to discuss the matter and the view of the majority was not to lend Mr Norris their support.

Mr Norris's presidential election campaign was thrown into turmoil with the resignation of two key officials.

Director of communications Jane Cregan and director of elections Derek Murphy resigned from his campaign team on Friday night.

Ms Cregan left a voice message on her phone saying: "I no longer work for the David Norris for president campaign." Mr Murphy confirmed that he had resigned but declined to say why.

Campaign manager Liam McCabe could not be contacted for comment. Youth organiser Orlaith Foley yesterday announced she was no longer working with the campaign.

Meanwhile, less than one in five people said this weekend that David Norris should promise he would not have a partner in the Aras if he became president, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Quantum Research nationwide poll.

This question provoked a strong reaction from respondents, with many objecting to it being asked at all. Eighty-two per cent of people thought that David Norris should not be asked to promise he would not have a partner in the Aras.

But many of those in the minority were quite forthright in their opinions.

"I really don't think Ireland should have a gay president. They have different values that are not in line with the good of the country," one male respondent said.

Sunday Independent

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