NI man fails to get on presidential ballot

A businessman from Dromore, Co Down, almost succeeded in a last-ditch attempt to stand in the race to become Irish president.

John O’Hare, who is originally from Newry, had won a nomination from South County Dublin council – however, this fell through after it was discovered the vote had not followed standing orders, he said.

On Tuesday night in Dublin he was faced with a run-off against former journalist Gemma O’Doherty, to secure a late nomination from a group of 20 independent senators linked to Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

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However, the attempt failed when the 20 senators could not agree to give their unanimous support to either Ms O’Doherty or him.

As presidential candidates must either have the support of four county councils or 20 senators, Mr O’Hare was unable to proceed.

He said: “I believe Michael D Higgins will be re-elected, which is fine with me because I think he is wonderful. However, my intention was to try and ensure there was a Northern Ireland resident’s voice in the race, in light of the situation with Brexit.”

A ‘remainer’, Mr O’Hare said he would have hoped to speak for “all the people of Northern Ireland”.

He will consider running again in the next poll in seven years, he added.

There are six candidates in the running including the incumbent Michael D Higgins.

The election will take place on Friday, October 26, with the winner inaugurated on November 11.