Lord Mayor, we consider this motion before us not in isolation but in a country which I believe has an inner want and inner desire, you only have to listen to the conversations in pubs and coffee shops to hear the disconnect, the distrust which people have with our system of democracy and with the body politic.
This want or desire for leadership, for a new narrative for our country for a new sense of direction will require each of us as citizens to examine what is important to us, to examine our values and to seek out those people who can lead us on that journey.
The Presidential campaign, I believe will be the start of that journey and perhaps the large number of candidates in the field reflects the current tensions within our nation and the different and competing hopes of how our nation marches forward again.
And so the question which Bunreacht na hEireann asks me to consider, Is David Norris a suitable candidate for a presidential election. Is he serious about his campaign, does he have a credible record, will he run a credible campaign and in the course of his canvass will he serve this nation well by conducting himself in the manner which a presidential candidate should.
The answer to all those questions in my mind is yes and therefore I will facilitate him tonight. I believe his is a suitable a candidate, I do not believe he is the most suitable candidate to be president and I will not be voting for him on October 27th but for the purpose of tonight I will facilitate him.
Not for his own sake, but for the sake of the journey I referred to earlier. We cannot afford to exclude or to been seen to exclude those who want to help frame the new direction for this republic.
I have on two occasions doubted if Mr Norris is a suitable candidate. The first time when I considered his views on pederasty and his letters of clemency, those issues gave me much pause for thought, but I believe that it is only by including Senator Norris as candidate that we will finally get to the bottom of those issues. If he is successful tonight he must immediately publish any remaining letters and give a full account of his views on the age of consent.
The second occasion which made me doubt his suitability was in the past few days. I have received many emails and texts from people who have said that David Norris as an outsider is being blocked by the political elite. They have taken the time to email me and lobby for change. I have to tell them it is more than their candidate has done. Until just now, I have never met David, I have never had a conversation with about his views in person or by phone. His campaign wrote to me many months ago with only a very short letter and until 5pm this evening he had never emailed me unlike many of his own supporters. If I had approached my campaign in that manner I would not be sitting here today exercising this constitutional privilege. To those out there who believe there is an inside and an outside in politics I challenge you to think again. It is not about being on the inside, it is about valuing your electorate.
If we are to mend our political system we need to end that view of politics having an inside and an outside. This chamber has a proud record of working in a non partisan way, putting the interests of this city ahead of sometimes our own parties. That culture allows me to celebrate the achievements of the Lord Mayor on the issue such as the Dublin Bikes and in turn he can support me in my work to improve the council’s communications with people of the city.
Tonight is one of those occasions when we must leave aside our party positions and consider the wider picture. I urge my fellow councillors, particularly those in Fine Gael and Labour who control this council to prove our critics wrong, to prove that we are not somehow apart from our country but that we are representative of it.
Let us allow all of the candidates in the field to beat their drum and to compose a new song by which this nation may march again. A march which must never be bound by others nor by ourselves.