South Tipp County Council may nominate Davis for the Aras

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

South Tipperary Co. Council is to hold a special meeting next Monday to decide on whether to nominate an independent candidate for the presidential election after several councillors voiced support this week for nominating Special Olympics chief Mary Davis.

It was decided to arrange the special meeting after Mary Davis and Fermoy man Richard MacSweeney, another independent seeking an opportunity to run in the presidential election, gave presentations to the Co. Council’s monthly meeting on Monday.

Mary Davis, who is President and MD of Special Olympics Europe and Eurasia, impressed many councillors with her presentation and a number of Fianna Fail, Independents and Labour councillors expressed their wish to support her being nominated by the Co. Council as a candidate.

She requires the support of four Co. Councils in order to get her name on the ballot paper for the upcoming presidential election on October 27. The deadline for county councils to submit resolutions nominating candidates is September 28. So far, Ms Davis has received the nomination of Galway County Council.

But support for her nomination wasn’t unanimous on South Tipperary Co. Council on Monday.

Fianna Fail Cllr Sean McCarthy from Cashel said while Ms Davis had been extraordinarily successful at the Special Olympic, he didn’t believe she had the “constitutional knowledge or intellectual capacity” to discharge the duties of president of Ireland and declared that he would have to oppose her nomination.

Cllr McCarthy pointed out that the past three presidents were people with proven constitutional knowledge and those nominated within the political party structure were hopefully well qualified to hold the role of president.

His comments were condemned by Labour Cllr Bobby Fitzgerald, who said he was impressed by Ms Davis.

“I thought it was unfair to say she doesn’t have the constitutional knowledge and how he can say she doesn’t have the intellectual knowledge is beyond me given her past history. I think she definitely has the intelligence to be President of Ireland,” declared the Carrick-on-Suir councillor.

Co. Council senior executive officer John O’Mahoney informed councillors that a member or members of the Council must submit a written nomination to be considered at a special meeting of the Council convened with at least three days notice. A simple majority of the 23 member Council is required to secure a nomination.

Mayo born Mary Davis, whose husband grew up near Cashel, in her presentation said the country needed a president involved in rebuilding the country and helping to develop and support our communities as well as bringing the country pride abroad, representing Ireland wherever needed whether it being helping to attract foreign direct investment, encouraging students to come to Ireland to learn English or promoting the Irish fashion industry.

In relation to experience of constitutional issues, she informed councillors that she has served on the Council of State, which advises the President, since 2004 and also chaired the North South Consultative Conference for the Irish Government.

She outlined that she had more than 30 years experience working in the community for a section of society that had been marginalised and she saw herself very much as a “practical” president working and spending time with communities, setting up forums to get the public’s feedback and find ways of getting people to support each other.

Richard MacSweeney, who lives in Tallow, Co. Waterford, in his presentation, told the Council he was a philospher, who spent 13 years in the Far East and 16 years in the Middle East before returning home to Ireland. He said Ireland needed a president, who was an intellectual and a philosopher, knew about our history, culture and art and wouldn’t be tied down by economics.

Fianna Fail Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan was the first to voice her support for Mary Davis and Labour Cllr Darren Ryan was next. He said the leadership of his party had given councillors the freedom to support the nomination of an independent and he believed she should be given the opportunity to run for president.

Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose (FF) and independents Cllr Denis Leahy, Eddie O’Meara and Richie Molloy also supported her nomination.

Fine Gael Cllr Joe Brennan suggested that in the spirit of giving more people the opportunity to run in the election that Mr McSweeney should also be entitled to consideration for the Council’s nomination.

Meanwhile, Independent Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher was in Tipperary town and Thurles last week canvassing for votes. He met with members of Tipperary Chamber of Commerce, did a walk about on Tipperary’s Main Street and around the Dunnes Stores shopping centre and gave a speech at the Building Resilience Together Project Conference organised by the West Tipperary Mental Health Association.