Davis accused of ‘blocking’ independent candidates

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Mary Davis was accused of employing a “blocking” strategy to prevent other independents getting nominations from local councils.

Ms Davis was given the endorsement of Limerick County Council where the nine Fianna Fáil members in a chamber of 28 had previously pledged support after she addressed the members last July.

Fine Gael, with a majority of 15 members, did not oppose yesterday’s vote of support for Ms Davis.

However, former chairman, Cllr David Naughton of Fine Gael accused her of blocking other candidates by accruing the endorsement of more than four councils in her campaign.

He said: “She knew she had this council in her pocket when she went to other councils in case she would have other candidates running against her. She is a blocking candidate supported by Fianna Fáil.”

Another former chairman, Cllr Kevin Sheahan, FF, said Ms Davis was the only independent candidate to address them when she came to their July meeting. “When we gave her our commitment then, she did not have the necessary four nominations (from councils). Today we have proven we are people of our word.”

Cllr John Sheahan, FG, said, while his party had its own candidate, Gay Mitchell, they would not stand in the way of Mary Davis getting a nomination from Limerick County Council, which they agreed to last July.

Chairperson Cllr Mary Harty said they had received an email late on Friday indicating another independent, Dana Rosemary Scallon, wished to meet with them yesterday.

But they had received a subsequent message that Dana felt her time would be more fruitful talking with other councils, given Limerick Council’s commitment to Ms Davis.

Later in the day, Dana secured nominations from Roscommon and Carlow county councils.

The Eurovision winner was selected by Carlow County Council ahead of the senator after councillors in Laois voted seven-four in favour of Mr Norris at a morning meeting.

However, Mr Norris later failed to get the nod from South Dublin County Council.

Former MEP Ms Scallon, who expressed her “absolute delight” after getting the nod in Roscommon, told councillors that she felt she needed to explain why she had got involved in the process so late. She had been asked the question many times, she said, but the main reason was that she and her family had suffered a “very tumultuous” two years during which eight family members had passed away.

“Emotionally as a family we were reeling from that,” she said.

Twelve members of Roscommon County Council voted in favour of a proposal by Fianna Fáil’s Paddy Kilduff that she be nominated. There were 13 abstentions, many by Fine Gael councillors and one councillor was absent. Nobody voted against.

Senator David Norris did not attend the Roscommon meeting and a motion asking councillors to nominate him was withdrawn. The proposer, Cllr John Murphy (Ind), said he had been advised by the Norris camp that the senator would get sufficient support elsewhere, and that Roscommon County Council should have the opportunity to put forward a united candidate. Mr Kilduff said he hoped David Norris did not live to regret not allowing his name to go before the council.

Dana told councillors that she was delighted that Roscommon was the first council she got to address as it had been part of her constituency as an MEP. She said there were very important links between the county and the presidency stretching from Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s first president, to President Mary McAleese who has a home in the county.

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