Higgins gets biggest applause as candidates appeal to students


DEBATE:SEVERAL PRESIDENTIAL candidates made appeals for the young vote last night at a debate in University College Dublin.

Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell and Labour’s Michael D Higgins joined independent candidates Mary Davis and Seán Gallagher to argue for the motion: “This house believes the presidency is relevant to the young people of Ireland”.

Speaking first, Ms Davis committed to appointing young people on to the Council of State and invite them on trade missions with her.

“I do feel young people feel disenfranchised and disconnected at the moment from the political system and I would like to address that,” she said.

In keeping with the focus of his campaign, Mr Gallagher highlighted what he would do for job creation.

“It is sad that many of you will emigrate because there are no jobs,” he told the 500-strong audience. “What is sadder is the fact that all that has been invested in you by this country will now be put to use to help build Australia or build Canada.”

Labour’s candidate Mr Higgins easily drew the biggest round of applause as he stepped to the podium where he pledged to initiate “presidential seminars” focusing on the needs of young people.

“The very first seminar I will run in my presidential seminars will be about being young in Ireland, being young and educated, young and unemployed and above all people threatened by youth suicide.”

The problem of high suicide rates among young Irish people was also something that Mr Mitchell promised to confront should he be elected.

He highlighted his past record in political office, saying he was “probably the most innovative lord mayor of all time because of the things I did in that year.”