Fianna Fail in blow to independents
Fianna Fail has dealt a serious blow to the presidential ambitions of Eurovision winner Dana and Senator David Norris after opting not to back an independent contender.
Both require the support of at least 20 Oireachtas members to be officially declared candidates, but the parliamentary party's decision withdraws a potential 33 votes.
The Fianna Fail parliamentary party met in Dublin to decide its stance on the presidency.
Fianna Fail Senator Labhras O Murchu pulled out of the race as TDs and Senators gathered, claiming he did not want to prolong uncertainty within party ranks.
After last week's fractious meeting, Tuesday's gathering lasted less than 45 minutes with leader Micheal Martin putting forward a motion to stay out of the presidential race.
It was seconded by his deputy Eamon O'Cuiv, despite the two previously clashing over the party's stance.
The decision will be a blow to both Dana and Senator David Norris, both of whom need Fianna Fail support.
A spokesman for Dana had no comment to make on the decision.
Mr Norris received a boost when Independent TD Catherine Murphy said she would sign his nomination papers. But it is believed he still falls short of the required 20 signatures without Fianna Fail backing.
The Kildare North TD had supported Mr Norris until it was revealed he sent a letter of clemency for his ex-partner who was convicted of statutory rape.