David Norris still leads in the Irish presidential race, according to a new poll that also shows Martin McGuinness in third place.
Norris's plans to run in the election received a significant boost when Senator Shane Ross agreed to back his nomination leaving him only 2 votes shy of the twenty Irish parliament and senate votes he needs to run.
The Sunday Business Post opinion poll, assuming Norris is in the race, showed him at 21 percent with Micheal D. Higgins of Labor at 18 percent and Martin McGuinness with 16 percent.
Independent candidate Mary Davis and Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell were next with 13 percent.
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McGuinness will be pleased with his initial poll numbers, making it clear that the First Deputy Minister for Northern Ireland enjoys significant backing in the Irish Republic.
McGuinness was targeted by Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell over the weekend.
Mitchell told the Sunday Independent: “I joined Fine Gael in 1969 as a boy and have spent my entire career defending the State, not the ‘26 counties’ as Martin McGuinness calls it.
“I’m not prepared to cede pre-eminent leadership of the State to a Manchurian candidate.
“Article 13 of the constitution vests supreme command of the Defence Forces in the President. Section 17.1 of the 1954 Defence Act, under the heading ‘military command’, states that ‘under the direction of the President and subject to the provisions of this act’, executive and administrative powers are exercisable by the government and Minister for Defence.
“The President has a constitutional and statutory role in the military command. Mr McGuinness would not be allowed such a role North of the Border. The people of this sovereign State need to think very hard before conferring such a role here.”
Mitchell also claimed that economic reasons should turn the electorate against McGuinness.
“At a time of international financial turmoil people needed to be very careful,” added Mitchell.
“Electing a representative of a party which espouses the crazy policies which SF do would send a dangerous message, and could drive foreign investors elsewhere.”
McGuinness responded to the latest criticism by saying: “I have no intention of engaging in petty attacks on fellow candidates for the Aras.
“I am a unifier: I have fought many election campaigns and I have never engaged in negative campaigning or in petty attacks on fellow candidates. I do not intend to change that approach now as we face into the presidential campaign.”