Councillor Henry Kenny, a brother of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, said it would be good for democracy if the long time civil rights campaigner receives the necessary backing to allow him to run.
He told The Connaught Telegraph: “If you are asking for my personal opinion, then I’m saying I would not stand in his way.
“The hands of Fine Gael elected members are tied somewhat because the party has its own selected candidate, Gay Mitchell, in the field while Mayo County Council decided at its July meeting to nominate independent candidate Mary Davis.
“But I don’t think there is anything to stop David Norris coming and speaking to us. It’s only right that he should get a nomination in order for the electorate to make the ultimate choice.”
While a county council can only nominate one candidate, the question of nominating Senator Norris is only likely to come before Mayo County Council in the unlikely event of Ms. Davis withdrawing.
But the fact Councillor Kenny has come out publicly in favour of Senator Norris securing a nomination is interesting from a political perspective.
“There is no indication at this stage that Senator Norris is interested in addressing the next meeting of the council in September.
“If the request is made over the coming weeks, I won’t have any personal problem with it. However, our official nomination will be Mary Davis once the election order is declared and the closing date for nominations is set,” he explained.
If a county council nominates more than one candidate, only the first nomination paper received from them will be deemed valid.
Councillor Kenny also moved to clarify the position regarding the decision of the 17-strong lobby on the county council to support Mr. Mitchell for the Fine Gael nomination despite the party leader, Deputy Kenny, being identified in the national media as a supporter of Pat Cox.
The Ballyvary-based representative revealed: “The whip was not put on us. We had a meeting and Gay Mitchell emerged as our choice.
“There was no approach from the Taoiseach in respect of supporting a specific candidate. Even in my own private conversations with him, there was never such a suggestion.”
The reason for Mayo FG councillors choosing Mr. Mitchell was revealed by Councillor Joe Mellett, party whip, when interviewed on RTÉ Radio One.
He stated there was an onus on the party to cultivate its voting strength in the Dublin area where the Labour Party polled stronger than Fine Gael in last February’s general election.
Despite Fine Gael’s success in capturing the public imagination in the lead-up to its selection convention earlier this month, Senator Norris remains favourite to win the election even though his nomination is not yet secured.
The recent Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showed his support is running as high as 25 per cent. Gay Mitchell is in second place on 21 per cent, followed by Labour candidate Michael D Higgins with 18 per cent.
Independent candidates Sean Gallagher and Mary Davis were placed on 13 and 12 per cent, respectively, while Deputy Eamon Ó Cuív, included in the poll as a possible Fianna Fáil candidate, had an 11 per cent rating.
The figures are strongly supported by the odds being quoted by leading bookmakers Paddy Power. They are Norris 7/4; Higgins 15/8; Mitchell 5/2; David 13/2 and Gallagher 12/1.
The chairman of the Fianna Fáil grouping on Mayo County Council, Councillor Al McDonnell, said it is important for the party to have a candidate in the field in order to expedite the revival of the organisation following the last general election.
“I hope it happens. We have no shortage of quality people within the party. All options are being strongly considered.”
Interestingly, party leader Deputy Micheál Martin informed his party's councillors a number of weeks ago they were free to support the nomination of independent candidates.
The party whip was applied to the Fianna Fáil group on Clare County Council to support the candidacy of Seán Gallagher on June 20. Three days later, he indicated that no decision on the party's position in relation to the election was likely before late August or early September.
Fascinatingly, Fianna Fáil councillors took the ruling coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and independent councillors on Meath County Council by surprise early this month by proposing that the authority supports the nomination of Senator David Norris for the presidency. However, the move was blocked by Fine Gael.