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New hope for Norris in race for the Aras

DAVID Norris appears set to make another late late comeback in the race for the presidency.

A series of local authorities are calling impromptu meetings to decide the fate of the senator and fellow hopeful Dana Rosemary Scallon.

South Dublin County Council has become the latest local authority to convene a special meeting to consider the Independent senator's request for support.

Mr Norris, who withdrew from the race in controversy only weeks ago, could be on the verge of a shock comeback, with 15 TDs and senators also backing his bid.

He needs the support of four councils or 20 Oireachtas members to become a candidate.

So far, Fingal County Council is the only local authority to have nominated the senator -- but that could all change after the weekend.

Independent TD for Waterford John Halligan last night became the latest Oireachtas member to sign Mr Norris' papers.

His support brought to 15 the number of TDs and senators to have pledged their support, a figure that includes Mr Norris who is allowed nominate himself.

Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, Labour's Michael D Higgins, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein and Independents Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher will also be on the ballot paper.


However, Dana Rosemary Scallon's efforts to get over the line look increasingly forlorn.

Donegal County Council is to hold a special meeting on Tuesday and may nominate her but it is considered unlikely she will reach the quota of four by Wednesday's deadline.

She is also not likely to receive the necessary support in the Oireachtas.

But it's a different story for Mr Norris who will find out on Monday whether Kilkenny, Roscommon, Carlow and South Dublin will back him.

Several of the local authorities had already decided to support Mr Gallagher but he told them they were free to nominate other candidates as he had crossed the line.

In a statement, Mr Halligan said: "In recent weeks I have been absolutely inundated with calls, texts and emails from constituents urging me to reconsider my decision to withdraw support from Mr Norris' campaign.

"Such an outpouring of public sentiment from the very people who elected me cannot go ignored."

Senator Fiach Mac Conghail also signed Mr Norris's papers yesterday. He said the nomination process needed reform.

Eight Independent Oireachtas members are undecided and have not indicated their position.

Mr Norris withdrew from the contest in August after it emerged he wrote a letter of clemency to an Israeli court on behalf of his former partner Ezra Nawi in 1997. Mr Nawi was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy and spent one month in prison.