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Special Olympics chief to decide on Aras run in days

Special Olympics chief Mary Davis will decide in the next few days if she will seek a nomination to run for the presidency, the Sunday Independent has learned.

If she does go for the park, the managing director of Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia will run as an independent candidate and will seek the support of at least four county councils to secure her nomination.

Ms Davis, 56, is best known for organising the successful Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin in 2003, the first time the event was staged outside of North America since Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the movement in 1968. It was also the largest sporting event in the world that year.

As part of that event almost every town and village in Ireland hosted international competitors and Ms Davis visited all of them in the run-up to the Special Olympics.

As a long-term advocate and campaigner for the rights and inclusion of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, Ms Davis could call on a significant level of support throughout the country.

The emergence of Mayo-born Ms Davis, who is a member of the current Council of State, as a potential candidate, comes as independent senator David Norris intensified his efforts to secure a nomination. He has formally written to all independent TDs seeking their support.

Now that the Taoiseach has announced his 11 nominees to the Seanad, Mr Norris will also be writing to all independent senators.

Mr Norris needs the support of 20 members of the Oireachtas or four local authorities to secure a nomination.

So far, only Fingal County Council has indicated that it will give him a nomination but Mr Norris, who spoke to Meath county councillors last week, is confident of securing a nomination.

Earlier this month, former president of the European Parliament Pat Cox confirmed that he is interested in running for the presidency.

If he decides to run, he will be entering an already crowded line-up bidding to succeed President Mary McAleese, whose second seven-year term ends later this year.

Former minister Michael D Higgins and former Labour spin doctor Fergus Finlay have announced their intention to seek the Labour nomination, while Fine Gael MEPs Mairead McGuinness and Sean Kelly intend to seek a nomination to run for Fine Gael. Former Taoiseach John Bruton has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Dragons' Den judge Sean Gallagher has also said he wants to be an independent candidate, while MEP Brian Crowley is emerging as Fianna Fail's most likely runner.

Sunday Independent