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Davis ‘in it to win it’

Davis ‘In it to win it’

Mayo native officially on the ballot paper for 2011 Presidential Election

Anton McNulty

THE Mayo public have anticipated for weeks now that a Mayo native would be part of the 2011 ‘Race for the Áras’ but it was only officially confirmed yesterday that Kiltimagh’s Mary Davis will challenge for the position of President of Ireland on October 27.
The Special Olympics Supremo had already secured the official backing of Sligo and Galway County Councils but yesterday (Monday) support arrived for her bid from Galway City Council, Monaghan, South Tipperary, Wicklow, Kerry, Waterford, Wexford and of course, her home council, Mayo County Council.
Davis will now join Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, Labour’s Michael D Higgins and fellow Independent Seán Gallagher in the Presidential race, with Gallagher having also secured the necessary backing from County Councils across the country.
One of the chief organisers of Mary Davis’s campaign so far, John Caulfield from Breaffy, said she was now in the race to win it.
“We believe Mary is an outstanding candidate and there is no doubt she has made a huge impression out on the campaign trail. She has received the support of County Councils from the four corners of the country and its onwards and upwards from here,” said Mr Caulfield last night.
A large number of Mary Davis supporters attended her address to Mayo County Council before she officially launched her campaign in the TF Royal Hotel yesterday evening (Monday). She told the councillors that she was humbled by the support she has received from the different Councils but the support from Mayo County Council was as important as any she received.
In her address, Davis touched on her involvement with Western Care and the Special Olympics in ‘tearing down discrimination’ and how she wanted to rebuild Ireland’s reputation around the world.
“I believe a lot can be done with ‘soft power’ because we need to rebuild ourselves as a country and inspire hope and belief in ourselves. I worked on the International stage as a Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia and I know that our reputation has broken down our the years. I want to encourage investment, tourism, attract foreign students to learn English and advance Ireland on the world stage. I want to ensure jobs are here for our young people and emigration is a choice rather than a necessity. I want to be a proactive President and as in the oath I will dedicate my abilities to the service and welfare of the people of Ireland,” she said.
Mary Davis (pictured) was the CEO of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Ireland and she explained that they ensured that it was the Games for the island of Ireland and not just for one city. She thanked the Mayo towns for their participation as host towns during the Games and she wanted to bring the strong work ethic of Mayo people into the office. “The sense of community and strong work ethic came with me from Mayo and I am very proud of it. I may have left Mayo but Mayo has never left me and I am going to bring those qualities into my campaign.”
The latest opinion poll on the Presidential election race shows Davis is lagging behind the other three declared candidates with 19 per cent of the vote. Her fellow Independent Seán Gallagher is on 21 per cent and they both trail Gay Mitchell on 24 per cent with Michael D Higgins ahead on 36 per cent for the first preference vote.
However, her popularity has also grown in recent months having moved up four percentage points since last August. She was also faired better on second preferences with her securing 20 per cent of the vote and putting pressure on the other candidates. Many people believe that because she is the only candidate not to have any past links to political parties, and as the only woman, she could capitalise on the undecided vote in the next six weeks of the election campaign.
It is strongly expected that Sinn Féin will announce a candidate in the next week while Dana Rosemary Scallon is understood to be throwing her hat into the race.
Davis has experience in constitutional matters having served on the Irish Council of State when she was appointed by President Mary McAleese in 2004. In 2006 she was made Chairperson of the newly created Taskforce on Active Citizenship, and also co-chairs the North South Consultative Conference for the Irish Government.