The election workers of South Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath dealt an emphatic blow to the presidential bid of Senator David Norris when they voted overwhelmingly not to back him.
At a meeting on Sunday night in Cahir, attended by supporters of Deputy McGrath from throughout South Tipperary, views expressed ranged from the “outright hostility to outright support”.
McGrath supporters voted by 53-18 against nominating the Trinity College Dublin Senator.
The outcome was a devastating blow to Senator Norris who was sent down the County Council nomination route to try and get into the race.
“Deputy McGrath said that he had to listen to the views of his “core group “ of supporters.
“They are my eyes and ears on the ground” he insisted after the vote.
He said if the meeting had been 50/50 he would have been personally disposed to providing the nomination which was seen as crucial to Senator Norris’ bid to get the backing of twenty Oireachtas members. Deputy McGrath was the nineteenth and if he had provided support it was expected than the Independent TD in North Tipperary Michel Lowry would have provided the final signature that Senator Norris required.
Deputy McGrath and his supporters were at the centre of national media attention on Sunday night as they debated the issue.
In the interests of democracy Deputy McGrath said he would have signed the nomination paper to allow him into the race but that he had to listen to his supporters.
He said the pressure was building over the weekend and he decided to hold the meeting in fairness to Senator Norris who needed to know if he had to go down the county council route.
Deputy McGrath said that since the meeting he had received phone calls and texts from people who had nothing to do with the decision taken who supported the stance taken.
“I believe what happened at the meeting was a barometer of the feeling around the country. If he gets on the ticket I wish him well but I think the view expressed my those at the meeting from all over South Tipperary is an indication of how things could go for him,” said Deputy McGrath.
Deputy McGrath said he would not be deciding on who to support in the presidential election until nominations closed. He had asked his supporters to inform him who they were supporting and he would take their views into consideration.
He said that at the moment some of his supporters were canvassing for Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher and he believed he would be backing one of the independent candidates.
The other South Tipperary Independent TD Seamus Healy this week said he was not nominating or supporting any candidate in the presidential election.
“I had hoped to support a candidate who would espouse such a position. In addition, I had hoped that the presidential election could be treated as an opportunity to challenge austerity and the EU/IMF deal in an effective referendum. As no such candidate is seeking election, I have decided that I will not nominate or support any candidate,” he said.
Deputy Healy said that despite election commitments, the current government was imposing huge austerity on middle and low income families and attacking public services.
“The super-rich are not paying their fair share of taxation and middle and low income tax payers are effectively subsidising them.In these current circumstances, it is particularly inappropriate to fill a largely ceremonial and expensive office,” he said.