Journalist Gemma O’Doherty’s chances of becoming an official candidate in the presidential election race have dwindled dramatically after another council voted not to nominate anyone to contest next month’s vote.
The potential candidate was unable to secure the support of South Dublin county council last night, meaning she and other still unofficial candidates must now effectively win every council nomination available next Monday.
Under existing presidential election rules, a candidate can only officially enter the race if they are seeking re-election, if they are officially supported by at least four local authorities, or if they have the official backing of at least 20 Oireachtas members.
With nominations set to close next Wednesday, businessmen Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy, and Peter Casey, senator Joan Freeman, and Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada are officially on the ballot.
This is because they received the support of at least four city and county councils, and, in Ms Ní Riada’s case, was backed by at least 20 TDs or senators from Sinn Féin.
President Michael D Higgins is also certain to make the starting line in the race, as he can nominate himself due to the fact he is the current incumbent and is seeking re-election.
However, the likelihood of a seventh candidate officially making it to the ballot paper looks increasingly unlikely, after South Dublin County Council chose not to nominate Ms O’Doherty, Donald Trump “super-fan” Sarah Louise Mulligan, Marie Goretti Moylan, or John O’Hare last night.
The decision not to nominate a candidate means that, of the 31 local authorities in Ireland, 17 have nominated a candidate and eight have chosen not to nominate anyone.
This means that, with just days left to go and the Oireachtas door closed on further nominations, no other potential candidate has received any nomination.
If a seventh candidate, the most high-profile of whom is Ms O’Doherty, is to still officially enter the race, they would have to win four out of the remaining six councils, which are Laois, Sligo, Kildare, Cork County, Donegal, and Louth.
However, it has been noted that both Donegal and Louth may choose not to hold a meeting before next Wednesday’s nominations cut-off point, making the chances of a seventh official presidential candidate even slimmer.
The situation emerged as the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) yesterday published its updated election coverage guidelines, which are based on the BAI code of fairness, objectivity, and impartiality for TV and radio broadcasters.
BAI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe said: “Broadcasters play an important and valuable role in the manner in which information about an election is communicated to, and discussed by, the Irish public.
“The publication of the guidelines today should aid broadcasters so that their approach to coverage is open, transparent and fair to all interested parties.”
Ms Ní Riada separately called on all official candidates to agree to take part in a TV debate during the presidential campaign.