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Michael D comes to senator's rescue

SENATOR David Norris survived strong criticism to get the backing of Dublin City Council last night, the final council he needed to get into the presidential election.

A motion supporting Mr Norris's candidacy passed the council by 30 votes to six, with 11 abstentions.

Mr Norris was hugely helped by Labour's Michael D Higgins, who made it clear to the party's 19 councillors in the capital that they should not block the Trinity senator.

Labour are the big power bloc on the council and, barring a small number who abstained, the party's councillors backed Mr Norris.

However, despite this, Labour's Rebecca Moynihan said Mr Norris's campaign had not contacted any councillors seeking their support, while Oisin Quinn said he had been "completely underwhelmed" by his campaign, which he said was "devoid of vision or ideals".

Fianna Fail supported his candidacy, Fine Gael's 12 councillors split, Sinn Fein backed the motion, while the independents on the council were mixed in their approach.

Meanwhile yesterday, Michael D Higgins revealed he has a war chest of more than €300,000 to spend in his bid for the Aras.

The Labour party president and former TD and cabinet minister revealed his party has pledged €320,000 for the campaign.

Even though he came out as the favourite in a 'Sunday Independent' Millward Brown poll last week, Mr Higgins said his party's election budget is "within a budget of €320,000".

This presumably includes the glossy posters of him that have gone up around the country.

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It also includes the slick red "Michael D Higgins for President" windbreakers donned by his election team and a tour bus emblazoned with his name and image.

But he assured reporters yesterday that all expenses are being well documented as he tours the country drumming up support. "Every aspect of everything I spend on the election will of course, be made transparent in public," he said at the Google Silver Surfer Awards in Dublin yesterday. "And of course all of the donations are being clearly logged," he said.

He revealed he has already logged up 20,000km travelling the length and breadth of the country.

He also reiterated his stance that the nomination procedure for the election campaign is "archaic".

"I think the convention on the constitution in the spring should look at that. I would imagine there will be a change. But we are in the process that we are in the present time."

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