Gallagher hands in nomination papers


Independent Seán Gallagher has handed in his nomination papers for the presidential election, making him the third candidate to be officially accepted on the slate ahead of next month's poll.

Mr Gallagher submitted his nomination to the returning officer for the election at the Department of the Environment at the Custom House at 9am this morning. He was accompanied by a small group of supporters.

The Cavan-based businessman and social entrepreneur is one of two independent candidates who secured the support of the required four county or city councils - the other is Special Olympics chief executive Mary Davis.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Gallagher said that after the period of securing his nomination and having conducted a "listening tour" of the country, he was now in a position to start his campaign. He said that jobs, national confidence and tackling the scourge of emigration would be among his priority messages.

"What is the role of the presidency at a time of crisis and of emigration? What are the real issues? Can the role of the President be used to put the country back on its feet?" he asked. "I want to get a sense of tackling recovery and confidence and employment and the scourge of emigration."

Asked about the positions of Senator David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon, who today secured the required support from four county councils to run in the election, Mr Gallagher said he had always favoured an inclusive election and believed that both candidates should be allowed run.

"When I secured the four nominations from the county councils I then asked all other councils who had pledged support not to do that but to open up their councils to other candidates," he said. "I am delighted that some of those councils such as Roscommon and Carlow have now supported other candidates. This is a difficult process for independents and we need not to make it any more difficult."

He said he was happy for everybody to be in the race. "We need to make it inclusive and we need a new style of politics that is truly inclusive. "This is about making sure that parties alone don't have access to the Áras. This is about a presidency of the people," he added.

The Labour candidate Michael D Higgins and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness have already submitted their nomination papers. Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell will do so later this afternoon, with Mary Davis expected to do so before the deadline of noon tomorrow.

With a number of local authorities meeting to decide on nominations today and tomorrow, contingency arrangements have been made to ensure that tomorrow's noon deadline is met. Kilkenny County Council is convening a special meeting at 8.30am tomorrow. If Mr Norris is relying on the nomination, the authority has arranged for a Garda escort to ensure the council's nomination arrives at the Custom House before the deadline expires.

When all nomination papers have been submitted, the President of the High Court Nicholas Kearns assess all nominations and make a ruling on whether they are in order or not.