Sunday 8 December 2019

Fine Gael research says Norris will beat Mitchell in Aras race

Fionnan Sheahan, Michael Brennan and Barry Duggan

FINE Gael's controversial internal research shows Independent senator David Norris remains the leading candidate in the presidential election.

The polling day for the presidential election appears set by the Government as October 21.

After defying a dirty tricks campaign against him by the party hierarchy, Fine Gael's presidential candidate Gay Mitchell admitted he needed to spend the next 12 weeks attracting the votes of those who do not support his party.

"The President of Ireland has to be a President for all of the people," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied he appeared to be disappointed when Mr Mitchell won the nomination.

"Am I supposed to be going around all the time grinning like a Cheshire cat for everything?" he said.


Fine Gael's own polling figures were quoted by the party hierarchy as a reason not to vote for Mr Mitchell. The circulation of the figures, which apparently showed Mairead McGuinness and Pat Cox on 22pc each and with Mr Mitchell lagging behind on 14pc, sparked a row between Mr Mitchell and FG headquarters.

Afterwards, a victorious Mr Mitchell had a message for the strategists who tried to keep him off the ticket.

"As I said on another occasion, we are the hierarchy. The parliamentary party, the executive council and the councillors and they have re-established themselves today and made a very firm point about who makes the decisions and I am very pleased with that," he said.

Fine Gael continues to direct its councillors not to assist Independents, such as Mr Norris, in securing a nomination.

Mr Norris currently only has the backing of Fingal County Council and needs the backing of three more local authorities to get his name on the Aras ballot paper.

He is travelling by train today to speak to members of North Tipperary County Council before returning in the evening to meet members of South Dublin County Council.

Mr Norris said yesterday he believed he would get the nomination -- but called for the "unfair and undemocratic" nomination procedures to be changed for the next election.

Fine Gael's same polling data put Mr Norris "still in the 30s". A senior party source told the Irish Independent Mr Norris was polling on 31pc at the moment. Labour Party candidate Michael D Higgins was in the low teens.

The veracity of the figures is being questioned widely within the party. But Fine Gael sources say the party is still concerned about transfers between Mr Higgins and Mr Norris defeating their candidate.


Irish Independent

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