She may not have needed the backing of Longford County Council - in the end - to enter the presidential race, but Dana Rosemary Scallon received the firm backing of Fianna Fáil members of the local authority at Tuesday’s special meeting when Cllr PJ Reilly’s motion to put her name on the ballot paper was passed by the party’s eight members. 13 members abstained from the voting process including two independents, 10 sitting Fine Gael representatives and Labour’s Mae Sexton.
By the time she reached Longford on Tuesday evening, Dana had already secured the backing of four other local authorities, so Longford’s support was but, a mere formality in the end.
Chairman of the local authority, Cllr Frank Kilbride (FG) said that he had known Dana “for a long number of years” - through the music business - and he wished her “all the best in the presidential race”. Cllr Kilbride also said that he was sorry that the local authority were not in a position to propose David Norris, because the process had entered the closing stages.
“I’m sorry that we can’t do anything for David Norris at this late stage,” he said, adding that he had spoken to the county manager earlier in the day about the possibility of proposing Mr Norris, but had been informed that the local authority was not in a legal position to support the presidential hopeful, because of the following day’s deadline on delivery of nomination papers to Dublin’s Custom House.
Fine Gael’s chariman, Cllr Alan Mitchell told the meeting that his party would abstain from the voting process and that Gay Mitchell was “the best candidate” in the race.
“It is our intention to abstain on this,” he explained, adding that Dana had already secured the necessary backing of four local authorities and was therefore, no longer dependent on the support of Longford County Council. “The Fine Gael view is that, by far the best candidate is Gay Mitchell and we will be supporting him.”
When the presidential hopeful finally arrived at Longford County Council’s headquarters on Great Water Street, she paid tribute to all those who had supported her in her election bid and thanked PJ Reilly for proposing her in the first instance.
“I want to thank you all for facilitating my nomination and holding, yet again, the democratic right of the people to run in the election,” she said. “I want to personally thank PJ Reilly and my seconder Cllr Tom Victory, the county manager and Anne Lee and Mary Cooney for all their support. The keys of the Aras and the democratic right of the people have been protected by the county councillors of this county today, so thank you for allowing me to go forward.”
Ms Scallon concluded by saying that she felt “very privileged” to run as a candidate in the race to the Aras and vowed to restore the electorate’s “trust and faith” in the powers that be.