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Former Eurovision winner joins Irish presidential race

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 27 Sep 2011 17:11 GMT
Author: Reuters
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DUBLIN, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A former Eurovision Song Contest winner secured a nomination on Tuesday to run for the presidency of Ireland, joining a packed field that contains a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrilla commander and may also include a gay senator.

Dana Rosemary Scallon, who won the Eurovision as a teenager in 1970 and served a term as member of the European parliament 30 years later, received the necessary backing of four local councils to add her name to the Oct. 27 ballot.

The one-time religious television chat show host, better known simply as Dana, won the support of councillors in the county of Offaly to seal her nomination on Tuesday, the councillor who proposed her inclusion in the poll told Reuters.

Dana, a devout Catholic and vehement opponent of abortion, ran for president in 1997 and came third in a field of five with 14 percent of the vote. She is joint least likely to win October's vote, according to bookmaker Paddy Power.

The race for the largely ceremonial role has been electrified by the entry of former IRA commander turned Northern Irish deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and could be more lively still if gay senator David Norris gets on the ballot.

Norris, a charismatic expert on Irish writer James Joyce who topped an opinion poll on Sunday, needs the support of one more county or city council with just a handful left to meet ahead of a Wednesday deadline for nominations. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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