David Norris has received a major boost in his bid to re-enter the Presidential election – from Fine Gael of all people.
The government party has withdrawn instructions to its county councilors to block independent candidates running for the Presidency.
The move was initially designed to raise support for Gay Mitchell, the party’s own candidate in next month’s election.
But now Fine Gael strategists feel that Mitchell’s election hopes will be boosted by the presence of as many diverse candidates as possible in the field.That news is a major positive for Norris whose controversial bid to secure county council nominations has been blocked by Fine Gael councilors up to now.
Norris was forced to withdraw from the campaign last month after a series of damning revelations about his support for his child-rapist former boyfriend in Israel.
Opinion polls have continued to show support for Norris to run in the October election however while an online poll backing his bid has now gathered 7,000 signatures.
Due back in Ireland after a holiday this weekend when he will announce if he is to run again, Norris has three weeks to secure nomination from four of the 34 city and county councils across the country.
Fine Gael control 20 of the 34 councils and had instructed members up to now not to support any independent candidate including Norris.
Earlier this year, Fine Gael openly canvassed against Norris with Galway City Council leader Hildegarde Naughton even using her casting vote to stop Norris from addressing a meeting.
The new Fine Gael edict was issued this week when Fine Gael councilors abstained on the votes in Sligo, Cork and Meath while three of them supported the Mary Davis bid in Galway and Leitrim FG members supported Sean Gallagher’s nomination.
Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell had actually campaigned for the party to lift the veto on councilors.
His spokesman described the initial move as ‘foolish from the word go’ after it was lifted.
Labor’s Michael D Higgins remains favorite for the presidency with 36 per cent support in the latest opinion poll.
Mitchell is second on 24 per cent with Gallagher and Davis on 21 and 19 per cent respectively while a third of the electorate have yet to decide how they will vote.