FG council members rebel to back Dana

DANA was given a slim hope of making it to a presidential election when Galway City Council backed her yesterday after the three Fine Gael members broke ranks to vote for her.

It was the first time a local authority came out in favour of her attempt to challenge President Mary McAleese. She now needs another three county councils Mayo, Leitrim and Laois to support her by next Friday's closing date.

The Mayor of Galway, Labour's Catherine Connolly, said that it was the "highest form of bullying" which was preventing Dana from getting the necessary nominations to contest the election.

"For the democratic health of a country, you can't infringe on the constitutional rights of the citizens," Dana said, reiterating her dissatisfaction.

There was an "appetite for a presidential election", she said.

"At council level, politicians are much more open to what the public wants. Councillors realise that in asking for their nomination to run for election, I'm not asking them to endorse me personally. There is a bigger issue the right of the people, not party leaders in Dublin, to decide who should be president," she said.

In Galway, Fine Gael councillors John Mulholland, Padraig Conneely and Brian Walsh went against the wishes of party leader Enda Kenny to see the motion to support Dana go through by 7-5 with one abstention.

Cllr Niall Ó Brolchain, Green Party, proposed the motion saying there should be an election.

His motion was seconded by Independent Cllr Michael Crowe, while Ms Connolly and Sinn Féin's Cllr Daniel Callinan also voiced their support.

Mr Crowe said that a candidate should be allowed to run in an election and that it was not the job of councillors to stop someone going forward.

The former MEP failed to win the backing of three county councils Galway, Kildare and Donegal.

Ms Scallon's bid for a presidential nomination failed to make it onto the agenda at Cork County Council's bi-monthly meeting yesterday morning.

Ms Scanlon and two others failed to receive nominations for the presidential election at council meetings in Limerick yesterday.

Nominations do not close until Friday and Ms Scallon may still seek the support of 20 members of the Oireachtas by that date.

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