LAOIS County Council made history yesterday morning (Monday 24 September), when its councillors became the first in its 120-year history to formally nominate a candidate for the presidential election.
On the proposal of Independent cllr Ben Brennan, seconded by Sinn Féin’s Aidan Mullins and supported by cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley (SF) and Fianna Fáil’s cllr Paschal McEvoy, Gemma O’Doherty received the backing of the council.
Not since the council was established in 1898 had councillors proposed a presidential candidate who had, a week previously, come before them to canvass support.
In putting Ms O’Doherty’s name forward for nomination, cllr Brennan said he was doing so because he thought “that she is an excellent candidate and hopefully will make an excellent president”.
In seconding the proposal, cllr Mullins said: “This is the first time in the history of Laois County Council that we have had an opportunity to nominate a candidate for the presidency.”
On a roll-call vote for the four named councillors supported the proposal that Laois County Council endorse Ms O’Doherty’s bid to contest the election. Two councillors were not present for the vote, while 13 abstained.
Speaking after the historic vote, the Dublin-based investigative journalist thanked cllr Brennan for proposing her and said that “Laois County Council have proven to be truly democratic. They have listened to the people”.
Speaking ahead of a number of councils who are set to nominate a candidate for the election, Ms O’Doherty felt the momentum was building for her.
Later that morning, however, Ms O’Doherty’s prospects of securing the support of four councils were dashed somewhat, when Cork County Council voted overwhelmingly not to back her.
Her last hope of securing an endorsement before the closing date for nominations (Wednesday 26 September) is to get the backing of 20 Oireachtas members. Candidates who have already secured their places are Seán Gallagher, Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Independent senator Joan Freeman, and Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, along with Michael D Higgins, who qualifies automatically as the sitting president.