Today Mary Davies became the first Independent Candidate to get the backing of four councils for this years Presidential Election. Both Monaghan and South Tipperary Councils passed official nominations, meaning that Ms Davies has passed the constitutional minimum to be on the ballot paper following her nomination last week by Galway County Council and Sligo County Council.
Since then both Kerry County Council and Wicklow County Council have also passed nominations in support of Ms Davies.
Mayo County Council will be meeting at 5pm to discuss her nomination, while Galway City Council will be meeting at 7pm to also discuss her nomination.
Waterford County Council is also expected to back Ms Davies later today.
Waterford City and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Councils will also discuss nominating Ms Davies, but Sean Gallagher also has a chance of winning the backing of Waterford City. While in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Fine Gael and Labour Councillors have placed motions supporting their respective party candidates.
A number of Councils that have pledged backing Sean Gallagher, the other Independent to follow this route are set to meet later this evening and mean that Mr Gallagher will join Ms Davies on the Ballot as he only requires the backing of two more councils having already been nominated by Leitrim County Council and Meath County Council.
Also today it has emerged that former MEP and 1997 Presidential Candidate, Dana Rosemary Scanlon, has secured the backing of Matti McGrath TD. She now requires the backing of 19 more Oireachtas members. She will be meeting with the Technical Group later this week and is hoping for some support from Fianna Fail in getting the Nomination.
So with the campaigning underway and nominations coming in, Paddy Power has commissioned RED C to undertake an opinion poll for the Presidential Election.
The results are interesting and changes are from the last RED C Poll in August.
Micheal D Higgins (Lab) 36% (-3)
Gay Mitchell (FG) 24% (-1)
Sean Gallagher (Ind) 21% (nc)
Mary Davies (Ind) 19% (+4)
The only candidate to rise in the poll is Mary Davies, which may show some momentum in the campaign as her profile rises. The drop in the support of the two party candidates will be a surprise to the teams, but may also serve to light the fire under them to get them working harder.
The other key finding of the poll in 33% of votes are undecided on who they will support. They are predominately young voters under 35.
While Sinn Fein have yet to announce a candidate, they possible will this weekend, this is the first poll with the four candidates and no “fantasy” candidate.
As the polls come in, during the campaign, I will again be doing a poll of polls. This is will be the initial poll.
Meanwhile in the betting stakes, also from Paddy Power, the odds are:
This week has the campaign for the Irish Presidency has got properly under-way. Official nominations have begun to passed by nominating Local Authorities. So far five local authorities have used there constitutional right to nominate a candidate.
Sean Gallagher is the closest independent candidate to gaining a full nomination having received the backing of three councils. Meath County Council, Leitrim County Council have nominated him, while Cork City Council will officially nominate him at a meeting next week following a special meeting last night. Mr Gallagher has also the received motions of support from four other councils including, Longford County Council, Donegal County Council, Roscommon County Council and Clare County Council.
Mary Davis has is halfway to the nomination. So far she has received nominations from two councils, Galway County Council and Sligo Council. She also has the support of six other councils. They include Louth County Council, Monaghan County Council, Mayo County Council, Limerick County Council, Kerry County Council and North Tipperary County Council.
In regards to the Party Candidates Labour’s Micheal D Higgins has begun to gather his 20 signatures at the Labour Party think in. Both Ciara Conway and Aodhan O’Riordain have tweeted about signing Micheal D’s nomination papers.
Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell seems to be continuing his campaign and as far as I can tell has no signatures signed yet, but he does have until the 28th of September and with the Fine Gael thinking starting today, he will begin to gather them.
A campaign to get David Norris to re-enter the campaign for the Aras is still going, they have a petition going and will be on the streets of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway gathering signatures.
It is doubtful that David Norris will get the nomination as I cannot see 20 oireachtas members or four councils backing him in the time left.
One other thing to note will be the absence of a Fianna Fail Candidate on the ballot. This will be the first Presidential Election in which Fianna Fail will not contest. Whether this is a good idea or not only time will tell, but it certainly wont help them to win back votes and certainly seems to be a money saving idea.
This year sees one of the most hotly contested Presidential elections in years. With candidates declaring from all parties and none, it will be interesting to see who actually makes it on to the ballot paper. It is notoriously difficult to get a nomination as Dana found out in 2004 when she attempted to run against the current President Mary McAleese. To be nominated candidates need 20 Oireachtas members to nominate them or 4 city or county councils.
The Party Candidates:
Fine Gael and Labour have a number of candidates who have expressed interest in being their parties candidate in the Presidential election. Within Fianna Fail no one has expressed an interest yet and Sinn Fein have abandoned their plans have holding the presidency during the 1916 centenary.
For Fine Gael, Mairead McGuinness MEP is the only declared candidate while Sean Kelly MEP is widely known to have an interest in a run. With the withdrawal of John Bruton, my money would be on McGuinness being the Fine Gael candidate. This year Fine Gael will use an electoral college system to select their candidate with votes being distributed between the Parliamentary Party, Local Councillors and the Party Executive. Only those who turn up on the day of the Electoral College will have a vote, so location could play a major factor. Pat Cox has also been linked with a possible backing from Fine Gael, but I can’t see him getting widespread backing,
For Labour 3 names have emerged in the fight for their nomination. Former TD Michael D Higgins, former Chef De Cabinet and current Barnardos Chief Fergus Finlay and Former Senator Kathleen O’Meara. Michael D would traditionally have been the favourite among the Parliamentary Party but with the expanded party and many of Micheal D’s supporters having stood down at the last election, he may find it difficult. Kathleen O’Meara is a name that isnt well known, so I have doubts that Labour would pick her as their candidate. As childrens rights is major issue at the moment, and a referendum on it coming up, Fergus Finlay is in a prime poistion to get the nomination.
For Fianna Fail no one has official announced for the election. Current Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley has in the past been linked with the Presidency and he himself has said he is interested. A name mentioned in the past has also been Bertie Ahern, but I think that has been discounted as an idea for now. A number of Independents have also been linked to possible Fianna Fail backing, with maybe a number of Fianna Fail TD’s nominating along with Independent Oireachtas members to show they arent a Fianna Fail candidate.
A number of independents have declared their interest in running. Senator David Norris of course is the most widely known candidate and has the backing of one council so far (As nominations aren’t open he hasn’t been nominated). He has also ran into a bit of trouble in relation to an interview he did back in 2002 for Magill has now emerged and could cause him damage.
Mary Davies the Special Olympics Organiser and Managing Director for EurAsia has also declared hher interest in running. She would be quite well known from her current role and could do well if she can get a nomination. She has been linked with a Fianna Fail in the past in realtion to being their candidate, but has decided to go the Independent root.
Sean Gallagher from Dragon’s Den has also decarled his interest in running for the Aras. Having been linked to Fianna Fail in the past and been mooted as a possible candidate in Louth. I think he has realised that running as a candidate with Fianna Fail backing would be a death knell at this point.
Pat Cox, who hasn’t offically announced, is sending out feelers to the possibility of a run. He has been linked with possible FG backing. He is a former PD/Independent MEP and is a former President of the European Parliament. He ran the Ireland for Europe Campaign during Lisbon II along with Brigid Laffin and recently advised Fine Gael in the run up to the election.
Who ever gets the nominations this will be a very interesting race. Candidates vary in their ability and their appeal, so I think we can expect a very interesting few weeks in October/November.