By Eoin Kelleher
NORTH Tipperary County Council has given its tentative blessing to Special Olympics organiser Mary Davis in the hotly contested Presidential race. The move will come as another setback to David Norris, whose high-profile campaign has run into trouble in the past few weeks.
On Monday, the human rights campaigner failed to secure the support of Kerry County Council. Kerry voted for Ms Davis, bringing to six the number of local authorities which have pledged their support to her.
North Tipperary’s intention to vote for Ms Davis ahead of Norris - both of whom have presented their bids to Councillors in Nenagh in recent weeks - now rules it out as the crucial deciding Council in terms of determining who might remain in the hot seat for this Presidential race. A vote for Norris might have kept him on track for a bid for the Aras. Mr Norris has so far failed to secure enough nominations to contest the Presidential Election.
The Council decision was taken without a vote as all the Councillors agreed to give their backing to Ms Davis’candidacy.
Travelling up to Nenagh from Kerry on Monday following that county’s nomination vote, Sean Gallagher said he now has a “pledge” of support from the minimum-required four local authorities. However, these pledges are not “cast in stone,” he told Councillors. “It may change and I can’t take anything for granted. The support of this Council would be of great benefit going forward.”
Some Councillors expressed frustration at Mr Gallagher’s late arrival. He had been due to appear last week, and was some two hours late on Monday.
However, at about 2.30pm, Councillors listened to the Dragon’s Den entrepreneur and self-made millionaire make his case for the highest office in the land.
Mr Gallagher said if elected, he would use the Presidency to showcase Ireland’s entrepreneurial talent both at home and abroad. Mr Gallagher, who has impaired vision, told Councillors he would pay special attention to those with disabilities, civic groups, young people, and in particular to nurturing small and medium enterprises.
Citing figures which show that half a million people want to leave Ireland, Mr Gallagher said: “There’s a sense of negativity which has beset us, and which is keeping us back as a nation. We need to have a sense of resilience, a go-to attitude.” Just as Mary McAleese built her Presidency on the theme of ‘building bridges’, Mr Gallagher said the theme of his Presidency, if elected, would be to create “community, confidence, and enterprise.”
Mary Davis serves as President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia with responsibility for the development of the movement in 58 countries across Europe and Central Asia.
Prior to this she was Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics Ireland and was CEO of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games.