Belfast Telegraph

Dana in desperate bid to save her Irish presidential campaign

By Fionnan Sheahan

Dana Rosemary Scallon was last night desperately trying to save her presidential campaign, after going to ground for the day to consult with her lawyers.

The Independent candidate is now facing the challenge of explaining her dramatic 'Prime Time' debate claim that allegations were being made against a member of her family.

Dana is expected to emerge from her self-imposed campaign break over the course of the weekend.

The development comes a week after it emerged that a family row over royalties from her work ended up in a US court.

Failure to campaign could result in her getting such a low vote that she fails to be reimbursed part of her expenses.

Already trailing her competitors in the race, she needs to get at least a quarter of a quota to be entitled to claim back up to €200,000 from the taxpayer.

Dana can't pull out of the presidential election, even if she wants to, as speculation intensifies about the claims.

The Republic's department of the environment said Dana's name would appear on the ballot paper in a fortnight, regardless of whether she continued to campaign or not.

Contrary to suggestions that Dana was withdrawing from the race, her spokesperson said the campaign continued.

"She is meeting with her legal team today. Hopefully there will be a statement in the next 48 hours. She is not out canvassing today. She is talking to her American legal team and her Irish legal team," the spokesperson said.

In the only sign of business as usual, the campaign was still asking for supporters who are looking for canvassing material to provide their addresses.

Dana dramatically ended a live television debate on RTE's 'Prime Time' with a claim that "untrue, vile and malicious" allegations were being made against a member of her family.





"It has come to my attention that yet further allegations, this time of a most untrue, malicious and vile nature, have been levelled against a member of my family," she said during the RTE debate. The statement was prepared with the assistance of her legal advisers.





From contacts with members of the campaign, Dana's official biographer said yesterday that alarm bells went off when allegations were put to her on Wednesday and she believed the story would appear in yesterday's newspapers.





"My understanding is she was talking to her legal team today and weighing up her options.





"My understanding is she will be staying in the race, even though she finds the allegations upsetting," broadcaster Ken Murray, who is not involved in Dana's campaign, said.





Fellow Independent candidate Sean Gallagher expressed solidarity with Dana and said that the media should not focus on personal family matters.





"I spoke to Dana and I have to say I stand in solidarity with her in terms of personal issues she is facing.





"I would like to send a very clear message out to everyone in the media and elsewhere that there may be issues in people's personal lives that just are personal," he said.





Debate





Independent candidate David Norris also supported Dana, saying he had faced allegations, too, which he said were incorrect.





In a bizarre intervention in the RTE debate, Dana broke off to make a statement about the issue. But she refused to say what she was talking about, leaving viewers mystified.





She said: "It has come to my attention that yet further allegations, this time of a most untrue, malicious and vile nature, have been levelled against a member of my family.





"Let it be known that lawyers have already been instructed to forensically investigate a particular communication disseminating this vile and false accusation, which attempts to implicate me and destroy my good character.





"We have now been advised that all possible lines of enquiry are being pursued with prosecution authorities in the United States.





"May I assure the Irish people that I will leave no stone unturned to expose the malicious intent at the heart of these untrue allegations," she added.



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