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Norris' Aras race will go to the wire as councils decide

DAVID Norris' hopes of contesting the presidential election were hanging by a thread today with just 24 hours to go until nominations close.

The Independent senator was dealt a bitter blow last night after missing out on the support of South Dublin County Council by a single vote.

And while it seems all but certain that presidential hopeful Dana Rosemary Scallon will get her name on the ballot paper, it is understood that Senator Norris' campaign team is concerned that speculation surrounding a further seven new clemency letters, written in support of Ezra Nawi, will give councillors last minute jitters.

It was looking increasingly likely today that Mr Norris' bid will come down to the wire and his fate may well be decided by Kilkenny County Council tomorrow morning.

The Trinity senator spent last night calling Dublin City councillors -- whose support is vital to his bid for the Aras.

While the authority's five Sinn Fein and six Fianna Fail councillors are expected to back Mr Norris, there were question marks today over the intentions of Fine Gael and Labour.


The two parties share 31 of the council's 52 seats and therefore can effectively decide the entire outcome.

Council sources have indicated today that Fine Gael members will abstain from the vote, but the late decision by their counterparts in South Dublin to vote against Mr Norris will leave the senator on tenterhooks.

Some councillors have expressed alarm at the news that he penned seven further letters seeking clemency for his former lover, Ezra Nawi, who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.

A number of councillors have told the Herald that they will not make their final decision until the final moment.

As well as Dublin City, Cork County and Waterford City councils will consider Mr Norris' bid today, while local authorities in Donegal, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford and Cavan are still deciding.

Mr Norris' chances of securing the support of Cork councillors remained in the balance after it was revealed that his proposer, councillor David Boyle, has yet to name a seconder to the motion.

If the Trinity senator fails to secure Cork's support, he must win the backing of two of the three remaining councils to get on the ticket.

And with former Eurovision winner Dana expected to take Donegal and at least one other council, Kilkenny's 11th-hour meeting tomorrow morning could yet decide if it'll be a six or seven horse race for the Aras.