Tuesday 16 January 2018

Scallon battles on despite poll tumble to 2pc

Stephen Maguire

DANA took a deep breath yesterday, acknowledged her standing at just 2pc in the latest opinion poll, and returned resolutely to the campaign trial.

She said she would try to leave behind the allegations which have ripped her family apart and caused huge damage to her presidential campaign.

The Independent candidate spoke briefly as she greeted Mass-goers outside St Eunan's Cathedral in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Dana, who looked physically tired, declined to respond directly to claims by her niece, Susan Gorrell, that she knew about sexual abuse allegations in the family decades ago -- rather than learning of them in a court case in 2008.

"It has been a devastating few days. But what really matters is the people on the ground," Dana said.

"We are going to leave that behind now (the allegations) because this campaign is crucial. While these distractions are being written about, our independence from Europe is being encroached upon every day. There are values within our Constitution that, once they're gone, we won't get back," she said.

Dana said she was not paying attention to the latest Red C poll which showed her bottom of the race for the Aras with just 2pc of the vote.

"I believe those polls were taken when I had stepped back from the campaign, which I think may have made people think I wasn't coming back into the race.

"I hope people see that I have the strength and determination -- that I know the people of this country have -- to protect our right as a sovereign nation and our Constitution and our values.

"That's what gives me the strength to move forward, because if there isn't a resounding vote for our values and our Constitution and our independence from Europe then it's going to send a signal out from this country that what is happening to us is okay."

Despite her lowly poll status, the former Eurovision winner said she was determined to see the contest out.

"I can only go by what I am experiencing on the ground and as someone here said this morning, 'There are two Irelands. There is the Ireland that we see reflected in the national media and there is the Ireland, the real Ireland, reflected on the ground'.

"I can only tell you, from on the ground, there has been a phenomenal response over these two days that I have been back on the campaign trail."


Asked if she would still have put her name forward if she knew the public division it would bring to her own family, Dana insisted she would have.

"My mother had a great saying. She said, 'Stand up for what you believe to be right -- no matter what the cost'," she said.

Earlier, Dana's supporters had been forced to apologise to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness who also, coincidentally, turned up outside the same Mass to canvass voters.

The apology came after one of her supporters, Mark McIntyre, verbally abused Mr McGuinness and his supporters, who included TDs Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn.

Irish Independent

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