On the 27th October, medicine Irish citizens will vote on who they want to be their next President for the coming seven years. Most candidates have been involved with some sort controversy at some time in the campaign.
Norris has made headlines throughout the campaign. In late July it transpired he had written a letter, patient on parliamentary-headed paper, on the 29th of August 1992 asking for clemency for his former partner Ezra Nawi. Nawi was convicted of statutory rape of a 15 year old boy, and was awaiting sentencing. Norris withdrew from the race on the 2nd of August, as a result of the letter becoming public knowledge.
Norris announced his return to the race on the Late Late Show on Friday 16th of September, but nearly failed to obtain a nomination, receiving the support of only 18 of the required 20 Oireachtas members. Norris received the backing of 4 county councils however, guaranteeing his appearance on the ballot. Michael D. Higgins urged his party colleagues on Dublin City Council to allow Norris on the ticket “in the interest of democracy”. If elected, David Norris would be the world’s first openly gay head of state.
Gay Mitchell also sought clemency for a convicted criminal. In this instance it was for Louis Truesdale, who was convicted of the rape and murder of eighteen-year-old Rebecca Ann Eudy in 1980. Gay Mitchell is a Christian conservative, and opposed to gay marriage. Mitchell launched his campaign on the 3rd October with the backing of Fine Gael.
On the 10th October, on Prime Time, the seven presidential candidates debated with Miriam O’Callaghan as moderator. Near the end of this debate, Dana Scallon read out a prepared statement, announcing that a malicious and false accusation had been made against her and her family, although she refused to divulge any information as to the nature of the attack. It later transpired that the attack was against Dana’s brother, John Browne, who allegedly raped his niece. The abused niece states that Dana has known of the abuse for 30 years.
Michael D. Higgins was selected as the Labour party candidate in Dublin, 19th June, and received the endorsement of Martin Sheen. Sheen endorsed Higgins as a response to the over five thousand strong Facebook group calling for his candidacy. Higgins promises to be a neutral president, and has largely avoided controversy during the campaign.
A recent national university poll coordinated by the College Tribune shows Michael D. Higgins as a frontrunner with 34%, and David Norris as second with 25%. David Mitchell and Dana Scallon received 4% and 2% respectively. Out of 603 UCD students surveyed in the poll, 2 stated they would vote for Dana.
Mary Davis launched her campaign on October 4th. Reports surfaced soon after alleging that Davis was paid over 190,000 euros by state quangos, after she was appointed to them by Fianna Fail government ministers. As a response to this Davis released her income on her website, and according to the site, Davis earned over 60,000 euros in director fees, along with her salary of over 150,000 euros.
Sean Gallagher launched his presidential campaign on 2nd October, and claims that while he has links to the previous government, he abhorred many of the decisions made by them. Gallagher has decided to use social media as opposed to posters to promote himself, and has the most Facebook followers of all candidates.
McGuinness’ former membership of the IRA has brought controversy to his election bid. On 10th October McGuinness was confronted in Athlone by the son of a member of the Irish Army, killed by the IRA, and McGuinness has been repeatedly questioned on his role in the IRA in various television debates and interviews.