SPECIAL Olympics organiser Mary Davis has formally announced she is to seek a nomination as an independent candidate for autumn’s presidential election.
Announcing her decision yesterday, Ms Davis insisted she has no association with any political party and was not approached to run for Fianna Fáil, despite her association with the party through her nomination to a number of state boards.
Fianna Fáil is to announce in the coming fortnight whether to nominate a candidate or to support an independent that has already declared.
Playing down any association with the party, Mrs Davis said: “I have worked with successive governments in relation to my role with the Special Olympics. I’m not involved with any political party at all, I speak with all of them, I engage with all of them.”
Ms Davis, currently the managing director of Special Olympics Europe and Eurasia, has written to local authorities around the country seeking their support.
She needs either the support of four county councils or 20 members of the Oireachtas to contest the presidential election.
“I’m standing as an independent, I don’t have any political affiliations, I’ve never had all my life,” Ms Davis said.
“So, I’ll be looking for support across all political parties when I go and talk to county councillors over the coming weeks and months.”
Her arrival in the race adds another big name to an already crowded contest of independents, including Senator David Norris and former Dragons’ Den judge Sean Gallagher.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has already given his party’s councillors a free-vote on their council’s nominations for independent presidential candidates.
Ms Davis said she will run an “Obama-style” grassroots campaign based around local communities: “I’ve always been supported by communities at local levels, that is why I’m seeking county council nominations so I intend to raise money in that way as well,” she said.
Announcing her candidacy in the National Library yesterday, the 2003 Person of the Year said her focus as president would be on “building communities”.
“All my working life I have been committed to the values of equality, fairness, respect, empowerment and involvement. I believe these values are very relevant to the times we live in and to the office as president.”
Asked how she responded to comments that the next president should be male, she said gender should not be an issue: “We’ve had eight presidents and six have been men and two have been women.
“Any of us who looked back at the last couple of weeks and the momentous events that were here in Ireland, we will see how proud we were of our female president.”
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