Two Longford independents set to back Norris

Neil Halligan

Reporter:

Neil Halligan

The two independent councillors on Longford County Council are set to vote in favour of Senator David Norris getting a nomination for the Presidential election from the local authority when it comes before a meeting in the near future.

The two independent councillors on Longford County Council are set to vote in favour of Senator David Norris getting a nomination for the Presidential election from the local authority when it comes before a meeting in the near future.

Councillors were last month canvassed by the Dublin-based senator, who was returned to the Seanad following the recent elections. Following his engaging speech, which received a round of applause, it emerged through Cllr Paddy Belton (FG) that Fine Gael members would be opposing Senator Norris’ nomination when the vote comes before a council meeting.

That vote may happen next Wednesday (4pm), when the council convenes in the new Ballymahon Library for its monthly meeting, or it’s more likely to wait until the following month (June 15).

Cllr Mark Casey (Ind), who originally proposed that Senator Norris would be invited to make a presentation to Longford council, confirmed to the Leader that he will formally seek councillors’ support for Senator Norris.

Co Mayor, Cllr Paul Connell (Ind), similarly confirmed to the Leader that he would be supporting Cllr Casey’s proposal in what will be a break from the current, but separate, agreement in relation to the election of County and Deputy Mayors.

Fianna Fail councillors were given the freedom to vote for whoever they wanted, following a statement by party leader Michéal Martin, which would appear to pave the way for Norris to get a nomination in Longford – should Fianna Fail councillors, plus the two independents and one Labour vote for him.

However, it has since emerged that other independent candidates, including Special Olympics chairperson Mary Davis and Dragon’s Den star Sean Gallagher may seek the nomination from local authorities.

As the Constitution of Ireland (Article 12 - 4.3) states that a local authority can only support the nomination of one candidate, councillors in Longford may hold off on their decision until a full field has emerged.

Speaking to the Leader, Cllr Casey said, “This wasn’t just about David Norris; this is about putting an independent running fro the Aras, rather than having a party person, because the President should be beyond political parties anyway.

“If Fine Gael do not abstain from voting, we would be hoping for the support of Fianna Fail and Labour to carry the motion forward.”

Co Mayor Cllr Paul Connell also confirmed his intention to support Cllr Casey’s proposal when it came before the council chamber.

Cllr Denis Glennon (FF) believed that his fellow party members “wouldn’t be putting obstacles in his (Norris) way”.

“In most councils, the parties would have stood back and let the independents decide, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Longford,” said Cllr Glennon.

He added that he didn’t think a decision should be made until all candidates have made their case to the council.

The Presidential election will take place in October this year.