Norris has mountain to climb in bid for spot on presidential ballot
Senator puts hopes in 'dual strategy'
INDEPENDENT presidential candidate David Norris is still a long way off securing a nomination for the election proper later this year.
Mr Norris needs the support of 20 members of the Oireachtas or four county councils to get on to the ballot paper.
But so far he only has the declared support of a handful of Independent TDs as he begins to canvass the county councils.
The Trinity College Dublin senator is unlikely to get a nomination from any of the main parties, who will be running their own candidates.
Fine Gael and the Labour Party are committed to contesting the election.
Even if Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein do not run candidates, they would be unlikely to endorse Mr Norris' candidacy.
The Joycean Scholar has until September to secure the backing of Independent TDs and senators or county councils.
The presidential election is expected to take place in late October or November. But only a small number of the 19 Independent TDs are publicly backing Mr Norris' campaign.
Dublin North-Central TD Finian McGrath was first out of the blocks to support Mr Norris and said it was time for a real "independent in the Aras".
Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy and Dublin Central TD Maureen O'Sullivan pledged support, while Roscommon-South Leitrim's Luke 'Ming' Flanagan said Mr Norris had "a right to be on the ballot paper".
And some other Independents might support his cause, with Donegal South-West's Thomas Pringle saying he was "likely" to support Mr Norris.
Dublin South-Central TD Joan Collins said it would depend on who else comes forward. "But if it was Labour versus David Norris, I'd support David Norris," she said.
After that, support for Mr Norris is thin on the ground.
A spokesman for Mr Norris said he was "running a dual strategy", pursuing both the Oireachtas and council route.
The senator is only asking councillors to nominate him, rather than support his candidacy, as he understands most will back their party candidates.
Although Fine Gael sources denied party headquarters ordered councillors not to support Mr Norris, they said it would be ridiculous to support another entrant who could take votes from the FG candidate.
"It would just be basic common sense not to support him," the source said.
The Labour candidate will be decided in the coming weeks.