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Former Labour Senator joins race to become President


Former Labour Senator Kathleen O'Meara

Former Labour Senator Kathleen O'Meara

Former Labour Senator Kathleen O'Meara

Former RTE journalist and Senator Kathleen O’Meara announced today that she is seeking the Labour Party nomination to run for President.

Former Minister Michael D O’Higgins and Barnardos chief Fergus Finlay have already announced their intention to represent Labour in the race for the Aras later this year. Labour’s selection convention takes place on June 19.

Ms O’Meara, who was unsuccessful in her General Election bids of 2002 and 2007, is currently head of communications for the Irish Cancer Society.

She said that she wants to create a new proclamation of independence for the Republic to be announced in 2016.

Special Olympics organiser Mary Davis last week declared her intention to run for the position as an independent candidate.

The former teacher and community worker is best known for bringing the Special Olympics to Ireland in 2003 while she was chief executive of Special Olympics Ireland.

Dragon’s Den businessman Sean Gallagher and Senator David Norris have both declared their interest in running in the presidential election to succeed President Mary McAleese.

Fine Gael is back looking at former Progressive Democrat TD Pat Cox as its potential candidate for the presidential election after former Taoiseach John Bruton ruled himself out of contention.

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness remains the only declared candidate with fellow European Parliament member Sean Kelly waiting for the party to say if it wants him to run.

But the party hierarchy is still looking beyond those names and expects there to be a competition for the nomination. Mr Cox, the former European Parliament president and former PD TD, is the only alternative being looked at.

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"The question for the party is if it is necessary to stretch beyond the party, like Enda did with the Seanad nominations. Pat Cox is a possibility," a senior source said.

Mr Cox has said he would look at it if there was enough support for him -- a move widely interpreted as an advertisement of his availability.

Although some figures believe he could still be convinced to run, Mr Bruton has written to Fine Gael party headquarters officially removing his name from contention.

Mr Bruton said at the weekend he had been asked by the party to go for selection as the party's candidate, which he said was a "very great honour".

"I discussed the matter thoroughly with the party's representative. I promised to reflect carefully on the request and respond.

"I did so about 10 days ago. I said, with regret, that I did not wish my name to be among those considered," he said.

Mr Bruton denied he had asked for the role of the President to be expanded as a precondition of him running for the post.

Fine Gael will decide next month when to select the candidate -- either in early July or September.

Mr Kelly said yesterday he was available to talk to the party if it wanted him to run.

"I'm waiting for Fine Gael to get back to me," he said.


Despite the statement from Mr Bruton, some party figures still believe he could be persuaded to run.

"I think he could be waiting to be purred along. He wanted more power and the full support of the parliamentary party," a source said.

Meanwhile, former Labour senator Kathleen O'Meara will this morning formally announce that she wants to be her party's presidential candidate.

She joins former minister Michael D Higgins and former spindoctor Fergus Finlay in the race for the nomination.

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