Predsidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon has been the latest target in the dirtiest presidential campaign in the history of the Republic.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness’ former leadership of the IRA constantly being cast against him by opponents, now, a bitter rift in Scallon’s family has been exposed over her U.S. citizenship which was previously unknown to the Irish electorate.
The row exploded towards the end of last week when court evidence from Iowa of her sister Susan Stein became public knowledge in Ireland.
Stein claimed in her evidence that Scallon was already a U.S. citizen before she first contested the 1997 presidency which was won by Mary McAleese.
Stein made her comments during a bitter court dispute over the ownership of some of Scallon’s religious recordings, although she acknowledged last weekend that her sister could have been in the process of applying for citizenship in 1997.
There was consternation last week in the Scallon camp when the dispute was revealed. She said she didn’t become a U.S. citizen until October 8, 1999.
She also said she thought it was a new low to bring a family disagreement before the public.
“This was a personal family matter and it’s being used by the media in order to paint me as a person who lies. I do not lie. I always told the truth,” she said.
“I believe that my integrity would stay intact. There's not one family who hasn’t had difficulties, and we worked our way through it.”
She said she applied for U.S. citizenship because her husband was working in the U.S. and she did so in order for the family to remain there legally.
Scallon, known by her stage name Dana, came third behind the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael candidates in 1997, but she has dropped to the bottom of the seven candidates in opinion polls this campaign.
Businessman Sean Gallagher rocketed up the opinion poll ladder as an independent in the last 10 days to reach second place behind Labor’s Michael D. Higgins.
This week Martin McGuinness was confronted in Athlone by David Kelly, son of a soldier killed along with Garda (police officer) Gary Sheehan when businessman Don Tidey was rescued from IRA captivity in woods in Co. Leitrim in December 1983.
Kelly said he wanted justice for his father, Private Patrick Kelly, and he demanded that McGuinness should name the killers.
McGuinness denied any knowledge of the individuals involved, or of being on the IRA Army council at the time.
The two other candidates among the seven in the field are Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell and Special Olympics boss Mary Davis who is running as an independent.