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Thursday 23 November 2017

Davis secure as Norris suffers Aras race snub

Sam Smyth, Kathryn Hayes and Conor Kane

INDEPENDENT presidential candidate Mary Davis looks certain to secure her place on the ballot paper, but front-runner David Norris suffered another setback yesterday.

Mr Norris was yesterday told he would not be allowed to address a city council meeting in September.

Mr Norris had hoped to persuade Galway City Council to support him, but Fine Gael mayor Hildegarde Naughton -- believed to be acting on party instructions -- yesterday used her casting vote to stop him from speaking.

However, Ms Hildegarde last night claimed a misunderstanding had taken place and said she would seek to rectify the situation in order to allow Mr Norris to address the council.

It was better news for Ms Davis who now looks assured of her place in the race for the Aras after two more local authorities supported her nomination.

Yesterday afternoon Mayo County Council voted to support her candidacy -- although 17 Fine Gael members of the council abstained on the vote.

She also received strong support from all parties in Limerick County Council after she addressed them yesterday, while both Louth and Monaghan had earlier pledged their support.

Ms Davis, who also addressed Tipperary North County Council yesterday, said she was "humbled" to have the backing of the four local authorities necessary to put her on the ballot paper.

"It's a great occasion that I am here, that I have received the endorsement of the county councils, albeit that I must wait as all Independent candidates do until the writ has been passed in September," she said.


But Independent candidate Sean Gallagher lashed out at Fine Gael councillors in Cavan who opposed his nomination because of orders from party headquarters.

Mr Gallagher said: "In other councils, Fine Gael councillors have either abstained or voted for motions of support for me. This is blatantly putting party politics above the Presidency."

The Cavan Fine Gael councillors abided by the instruction from head office not to support a non-FG candidate following the selection of MEP Gay Mitchell as the party's candidate last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Waterford County Council voted not to allow Mr Gallagher to address its September meeting as he had already cancelled two previous invitations to do so.

However, five local authorities have already given their support to Mr Gallagher, which will secure his name on the ballot paper if they follow their promises with their votes.

Although it is believed that Mr Norris can secure his candidacy by gaining support from 20 members of the Dail, the snub from Galway City Council yesterday was not expected.

Three Fianna Fail members of Galway City Council joined three Fine Gael members with an Independent to oppose Mr Norris's plans to address them. The Labour Party was among the group supporting him but, with the vote tied at seven/seven, the mayor used her casting vote to exclude Mr Norris.

The senator addressed North Tipperary County Council yesterday but the council will wait to hear from other Independent candidates before indicating who it will support

Fingal County Council has already pledged its support to Mr Norris, but is the only council to do so.

Irish Independent

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