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Irish presidential election, 1997

The Irish presidential election in 1997 was due in any case but it was brought forward slightly by the decision of President Robinson to resign slightly earlier to take up her position as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Fianna Fáil was expected to run former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds but in a major surprise the party instead chose the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast, Professor Mary McAleese. Fine Gael chose Mary Banotti, MEP while Labour chose human rights campaigner Adi Roche. In an unprecedented development, two independent candidates were nominated by local authorities, for Eurovision Song Contest winner and family values campaigner Dana, Rosemary Scallon and retired policeman and victims' rights campaigner, Derek Nally.

Roche's campaign went into serious decline when she showed a poor understanding of the office, while McAleese provided a formidable campaigner. Banotti also showed her political skills, while Dana surprised all with her appeal and campaigning abilities. Derek Nally's campaign was beset by internal problems. In the final result, McAleese easily beat Banotti, while Dana came in a shock third, forcing Roche into a humiliating fourth. As a result Mary McAleese became the eighth President of Ireland.

The results were as follows:

Candidate Party 1st Preference Share of Vote Status
Mary McAleese Fianna Fáil 574,424 45.24% Made Quota
Mary Banotti Fine Gael 372,002 29.30% Eliminated
Derek Nally Independent 59,529 4.69% Lost deposit
Dana Independent 175,458 13.82% Eliminated
Adi Roche Labour 88,423 6.96% Lost Deposit