Council hears from Duffy, Freeman, O’Doherty and Marilyn Monroe impersonator

O’Doherty focuses on corruption and a ‘toxic’ media

Councillors in Meath have heard petitions from would-be candidates for the presidency, including businessman Gavin Duffy, Navan-based musician Jimmy Smith, and former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O'Doherty.

Meath County Council also heard at the meeting in Navan from Senator Joan Freeman, founder of the Pieta House suicide prevention charity, Roscommon farmer John Groarke and artist Kevin Sharkey.

Marilyn Monroe impersonator and performing artist Sarah Louise Mulligan, Galway man Patrick Feeney and Marie Goretti Moylan were also scheduled to address the petition meeting on Monday. Ms Moylan made no appearance.

Mr Smith, the first petitioner, spoke of the homelessness crisis and mental health issues and also said he would like to see two articles restored to the Constitution which would allow the removal of ministers for incompetence.


“It is my belief that the president can and should hold the government to account. I see nothing in the constitution which disallows this,” said Mr Smith.

Mr Duffy, who is from Co Meath, told councillors Ireland was changing dramatically.

“One of the things we are passionate about is a missionary zeal,” he said.

He proposed, as he has at petition meetings before other local authorities, an “international youth corps” for young people in order to capture that missionary zeal. They would spend three months serving their local community followed by three months overseas in the developing world.

“I really do have a conviction to put myself forward and do this. I’m really committed to it,” said Mr Duffy.

Ms Freeman said she wanted to use “the highest office” in the land to focus attention, to generate dialogue, to highlight issues, and to “surely, doggedly and persistently” make the changes in this country we so needed.

Ms Freeman said she had a “proven track record” and she had shown through her organisation of the annual Darkness into Light march for Pieta House that she could influence people.

Mr Sharkey told councillors his vision was to “make Ireland fair again”.

He said people who came here from other countries were “getting more than they would ever get in their own countries”.

“My concern is that we cannot give it to everybody and in numbers alone I see it becoming a problem. I think we need to safeguard that against this notion of expanding this multiculturalism,” he said.

Ms Mulligan addressed the council on her own bid, in particular focusing on the “sad, silent, cruel” crime of elder abuse.

Questioned about a statement that if US president Donald Trump were to visit Ireland while she was president that she would dress as Marilyn Monroe, Ms Mulligan said: “If the Irish public wanted me to do that, I would.

“At the end of the day, politics can’t always be serious. We can’t be living in the Stone Age, you have to change with the times.”

Ms Mulligan subsequently said she had not been serious.

The meeting also heard from Mr Feeney , a former Aer Lingus worker, who proposed a boardwalk along the River Boyne and a review of the railway line to Navan.

Ms O’Doherty, the last petitioner of the day, focused her presentation on corruption and on what she said was a “toxic” media.

The journalist said that since she had announced her desire to run for the presidency last week, her personality and her journalism had been “completely sabotaged” by “elements in the media”.

She said she had done more in her journalism to represent the views of minorities and marginalised people than most people had. This included work on transgender rights, the rights of gay people and the rights of women.

Ms O’Doherty also said her views on vaccination, as expressed on social media, had been “taken out of context”. She said she was not anti-vaccination.