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Saturday 24 February 2018

Norris leaves door open as independents secure bids

Luke Byrne, Fiach Kelly and Fionnan Sheahan

INDEPENDENT senator David Norris last night left the door open to rejoin the race for the presidency.

It came as Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher officially entered the election race as they secured their nominations.

Candidates need to be nominated by 20 TDs and senators or four local authorities -- and independents Ms Davis and Mr Gallagher easily got through the council route yesterday.

But Mr Norris's prospects of getting a nomination to contest the election receded, as Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said his party would stick together in deciding whether to nominate or support a candidate.

Mr Norris did nothing yesterday to halt the growing speculation that his campaign was about to relaunch.

He was speaking for the first time since his return from his month-long holiday in Cyprus, but said: "I have no comment on the presidency."

He added: "I'm very happy to be back in Dublin, despite the rather mixed weather, and of course the Senate will be resuming on Wednesday. I'll be taking up my duties there."

Asked if a final announcement about his intentions would be made during a planned appearance on 'The Late Late Show' on Friday, the Trinity senator smiled and replied: "No comment".

Meanwhile, at his parliamentary party's two-day 'think-in' in Tallaght, Mr Martin did not rule out allowing members to sign a Sinn Fein candidate's nomination papers.

Sinn Fein is planning to run a candidate, with the latest speculation surrounding Martin McGuinness, although the prospect of the North Deputy First Minister actually running is still considered to be remote.

Sinn Fein has 14 TDs and three senators, just shy of the 20 Oireachtas members needed to get a candidate on to the ballot paper.

Mr Martin yesterday reiterated his party's position that FF would wait for a candidate to approach it before making a decision.

When asked if he would allow some of his TDs or senators back an SF candidate, Mr Martin replied: "We're not going into that speculation today. Any issue that comes before us we'll deal collectively with."


Former Independent MEP and presidential election candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon is also seeking Fianna Fail support for a nomination.

Mr Martin said the parliamentary party would decide collectively on any policy, including whether to free up TDs or senators to back individual candidates themselves.

Mr Martin said no approach had been made by Mr Norris, although Dana has been contacting TDs and senators seeking support.

He insisted the presidency would not be discussed during the 'think-in'.

The deadline for nominations is September 28. Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell and the Labour Party's Michael D Higgins were already on the ballot paper before Ms Davis became the first Independent candidate to be formally nominated by local authorities.

The Special Olympics chairwoman got across the line with nominations from South Tipperary and Monaghan. She went on to secure a total of 10 council nominations.

Mr Gallagher followed suit last night when Clare County Council and Cork City Council both backed him.

Irish Independent

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