Sean Gallagher promises to campaign for a united Ireland

Presidential candidate says he intends to build on the work of Mary McAleese

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher speaking to media during a vist to the Pregnancy & Baby Fair at the RDS. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher speaking to media during a vist to the Pregnancy & Baby Fair at the RDS. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher has said if elected president he would campaign for a united Ireland and believes it can be achieved within his lifetime.

Mr Gallagher also said on Monday if elected he would welcome the opportunity to address local authorities in Northern Ireland.

The office of president was about working within the parameters, he said: “it is less about legislation and more about imagination. The president can do much to set the tone.”

Mr Gallagher told The Times Ireland on Monday he would campaign for a united Ireland by speaking to local authorities in the North.

“There is an important piece of work to be done now in relation to Northern Ireland. It is a process, building on what Mary and Martin McAleese did. Some people would say, ‘well it is not in the constitution as a role’ but they made it happen.

“I think we will see a united Ireland in my life. Partition never served Ireland in the past and I do not believe it will serve Ireland in the future.

“The work now that needs to happen before we can unite territories and jurisdictions, is that we need to unite communities and individuals. It is about building contact, strengthening relationships and building a foundation of trust.”

During the same interview Mr Gallagher described Brexit as a mistake and said Ireland needed to strengthen its relationship with the UK.

Mr Gallagher said he was surprised to learn the €317,000 allowance provided to the president every year was not audited.

He said all public funding should be audited. Mr Gallagher said he planned to fund his campaign through savings and donations.

Mr Gallagher told the Newstalk Breakfast programme he had been “incredibly impressed” by Michael D Higgins and his presidency.

Notwithstanding this, he said a fresh approach was required.

He decided to contest the presidency for a second time as he felt he had to come back following the tweet during the last live debate.

Mr Gallagher also acknowledged the tweet during the last live debate during the 2011 election had changed everything for him.

Even though he felt he had addressed the issue sufficiently prior to the debate, the tweet “caused me to doubt my own memory.

“Live on air you get thrown. It was unfortunate that happened, people switched.

“I put my hands up, that was not my finest performance. I should have been clearer. It was a costly mistake for me personally.”

He said the televised debates will be different this time due to changes by the Broadcast Authority, he said.