Thursday 14 December 2017

Key events in the battle to become Ireland’s ninth President

Ed Carty and Sarah Stack


September 28: Michael D Higgins announces that he wants the Labour nomination for the presidency.


April 2: Pat Cox, Progressive Democrat founder and former president of the European Parliament, considers running. Ten weeks later he says he is seeking the Fine Gael nomination.

August 2: David Norris drops ambitions to become Ireland's first openly gay head of state after admitting he wrote clemency letters to Israeli authorities on behalf of a former lover convicted of statutory rape.

September 7: Gay Mitchell gets the Fine Gael nomination amid doubts he has the full support of the party.

September 12: Sean Gallagher and Special Olympics boss Mary Davis are officially candidates with the support of four councils.

September 16: After days of rumour, Sinn Fein endorses Martin McGuinness as their man for the Aras. Later that night Senator Norris tells the Late, Late Show he wants to re-enter the race.

September 19: Dana Rosemary Scallon pleads for TDs and Senators to be given a free vote on nominations as she enters the race.

September 22: Tough questioning of Mr McGuinness begins and the former IRA commander denies ever killing anyone.

September 27: Dana easily secures a nomination for the presidency from four county councils while Senator Norris's hopes are saved by an 11th hour vote in Dublin City.

September 28: The record seven candidates are officially confirmed by a returning officer from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. On the same day, Mr Norris claims legal advice prevents him publishing the clemency letters in full.

October 3: Ms Davis admits earning 390,632 euro (£342,151) serving on six state and commercial boards since 2000, while rival Mr Gallagher has earned 41,550 euro (£36,393) since 2008.

October 5: Senator Norris defends receiving tens of thousands of euro in disability allowance from Trinity College after stepping down as a lecturer but continuing work as a senator after contracting hepatitis from drinking water in central Europe in 1994.

October 7: Irish-American Dana denies covering up her dual nationality, insisting it will be an advantage to the country if elected.

October 8: Mr Gallagher reveals that he was involved with Fianna Fail up to nine months ago and only officially resigned from the party's National Executive last January.

October 10: The son of an Irish solider killed during an IRA shoot-out confronts Mr McGuinness while canvassing in Athlone, Co Westmeath. David Kelly accuses him of being on the IRA army council and of being a liar.

October 12: Dana drops a bombshell at the end of a Prime Time debate, claiming "false and malicious allegations" are being made about her family but refusing to divulge them.

October 13: Mr Gallagher distances himself from Fianna Fail less than 24 hours after refusing to blame the party for mishandling the economy.

October 14: Dana appears on TV3 for a dramatic interview and confirms she will stay in the race for the Aras amid massive controversy linked to a bitter family row over copyright ownership.

October 16: Opinion polls reveal a huge surge in support for Mr Gallagher, up 18 to 39%, with Mr Higgins sliding to second place.

October 19: Dana claims she is lucky to be alive while campaign team members allege that someone tried to kill her after the car they were in suffers a motorway blow-out.

October 20: The widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, shot dead by the Provisional IRA, maintains that Mr McGuinness is not a suitable candidate, while Mr Higgins describes the model represented by independent candidate Mr Gallagher as "ethically vacuous".

October 20: Controversy surrounds an 82,829 euro (£72,540) director's loan to Mr Gallagher, which he claims was an accounting error.

October 23: With polling five days away, Mr Gallagher has what appears to be an unassailable lead in the opinion polls - 15%.

October 24: The presidential front-runner is forced to come clean on his fundraising for Fianna Fail. He admits asking convicted fuel smuggler Hugh Morgan for 5,000 euro (£4,380) after being hit by an onslaught on TV by Mr McGuinness.

October 25: Mr Gallagher maintains he was ambushed live on air after calling for anyone with information on the IRA killing of Detective Garda McCabe to come forward.

October 26: The embattled presidential hopeful uses the eve of the campaign to apologise for what he called confusion over his past political fundraising.

October 27: About 1.5 million voters go to the polls to elect Ireland's ninth president.

October 28: Within an hour of ballot boxes being opened opinion polls have been turned on their head, with Mr Higgins taking a commanding lead. By lunchtime he is all but formally declared Ireland's president-elect.

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