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Thursday 19 April 2018

Norris's hopes alive despite massive Fianna Fail setback

Fionnan Sheahan and Greg Harkin

Independent Senator David Norris was thrown a weak lifeline last night as a bit of momentum belatedly gathered behind his nomination for the presidential election.

After the crushing blow of Fianna Fail deciding not to help anybody secure a nomination, Mr Norris made minor progress on the Oireachtas and council fronts.

But he is still a long way short of securing the signatures of 20 TDs and senators or securing the backing of four councils.

Mr Norris has the support of 10 Oireachtas members and one council. Fingal County Council followed through on a pledge to nominate him at its meeting. And the focus turned last night to councils in Carlow, Longford and Donegal.

But there are doubts in all three over whether it was too late to table a motion to give Mr Norris a nomination.

The deadline for nominations is in six days' time.

Fianna Fail councillor Dessie Larkin told the Irish Independent any notice of the senator's intent was "too late' to be included on the agenda for next Monday's meeting of Donegal County Council.

Cllr Larkin said legal advice given to it last night was that the inclusion of a nomination would be outside their powers.

Carlow County Council will vote on a motion on nominating Mr Norris next Monday and Longford County Council meets tonight.

Supporters of Mr Norris claimed he had 18 TDs and senators willing to nominate him.

But the senator only has the backing of 10 Oireachtas members so far, including himself.

Mr Norris added Independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly to his list of nominees yesterday.

Ms Murphy said she had reversed her decision to not nominate Mr Norris in the wake of the controversy over his letter of clemency on behalf of his partner who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old "in the interest of democracy and a varied ballot paper".

But another five Independent senators who previously supported his nomination are staying silent.

Senators Mary Ann O'Brien, Marie Louise O'Donnell, Katherine Zappone and Fiach MacConghail and Trinity senator Sean Barrett have not made their intentions clear.

Decisive

It is believed a number of Independents are willing to sign his papers if he is falling one name short.

And last night Fianna Fail yesterday dealt a potentially decisive blow to the presidential ambitions of Mr Norris and former MEP Dana Rosemary Scallon after party leader Micheal martin closed off nominations from his party's 33 TDs and senators.

Following a bitter six-hour meeting last week over the presidency, yesterday's meeting only took 40 minutes. Prior to a meeting of the party, Fianna Fail Senator Labhras O Murchu killed off his own campaign.

Fianna Fail's parliamentary party endorsed the decision not to contest the 2011 presidential election and further decided not to nominate or endorse a candidate.

After threatening to resign last week over Mr Martin's position, the party's deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv weighed in behind his leader and seconded the motion put to the meeting.

Irish Independent

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