FF too concerned with power - Gallagher


Presidential candidate Seán Gallagher has said that he left Fianna Fáil because the party was not dealing with issues affecting ordinary people and had become too concerned with remaining in power.

Mr Gallagher made the comments this morning at the opening of political awareness week in St MacDara's Community College in Templeogue in Dublin. The event was supposed to be a debate involving Mr Gallagher alongside fellow candidates Mary Davis and Gay Mitchell.

However, after Mr Mitchell informed the school on Friday that he would be unable to attend, Ms Davis ended any hope of a debate between candidates by contacting the principal 20 minutes prior to her expected arrival to inform him that she would also be unable to attend.

A spokesman for Ms Davis later told The Irish Times the cancellation was due "to a personal matter that came up at the last minute".

Because of these late withdrawals, the morning event turned into a questions and answers session following a short speech by Mr Gallagher.

When asked whether he would still be a member of Fianna Fáil if he were not running for the presidency, Mr Gallagher answered that he would not be. "I left any involvement in Fianna Fáil in terms of being a member of the party or being active back in 2009 because I felt that the party had moved away from its grassroots, the ordinary people who were struggling," he said.

He said  political parties at the time were fighting about "who was going to be in power" and issues other that those affecting the communities he was working with. "To me that wasn't what politics should be about. It should be about trying to move the country forward and deal with the big issues, so I moved away from party politics," he said.

However, Mr Gallagher saluted people working in all political parties at a local level, who he said were doing their best to raise important issues. "It is really important we don't demonise people for being involved in party politics just because their party was in government at a particular time."

Mr Gallagher said that he was proud of his time with Fianna Fáil and encouraged the students in attendance to join political parties and to become involved with community organisations.