Gallagher favourite to get first nod for presidential run

Gemma O’Doherty mired in controversy over Veronica Guerin ‘conspiracy theory’

Seán Gallagher during his campaign for the presidency in 2011 .Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Seán Gallagher during his campaign for the presidency in 2011 .Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

At least 12 county and city councils are expected to hold votes to nominate Independent candidates for the presidential election this week, with businessman Seán Gallagher the frontrunner to get the first endorsement.

Ten prospective candidates have already addressed councils with an 11th, businessman and Dragons’ Den panellist Peter Casey expected to address Leitrim County Council on Monday.

A number of other councils are expected to vote on presidential nominations, or hear submissions from candidates. They are Meath, Cork City, Leitrim, Kerry and Monaghan. Other councils who will hear from councillors in the next week include Clare, Roscommon, Fingal, Offaly and Cavan, which is expected to endorse Mr Gallagher.

Wexford was due to discuss nominations but the meeting has been adjourned following the death of the mother of the council chairman, Keith Doyle.

Mr Gallagher is believed to have secured sufficient backing in Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan and Wexford, which will give him the required minimum of four local authorities.

Businessman Gavin Duffy and founder of Pieta House Joan Freeman are seen as the next most likely to secure four council endorsements.

Until now Mr Duffy, Patrick Feeney, Ms Freeman, John Groarke, Marie Goretti Moylan, Sarah Louise Mulligan, Kevin Sharkey, Gemma O’Doherty and James Smyth have addressed councils.

O’Doherty controversy

Ms O’Doherty, a freelance journalist, has refused to withdraw a claim she made at an anti-corruption meeting in Waterford* that investigative journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered by the State.

A number of criminals involved with the John Gilligan gang were convicted in relation to Ms Guerin’s murder, including Gilligan himself, Brian Meehan, Paul Ward and Patrick “Dutchy” Holland.

Ms Guerin’s brother Jimmy, an independent councillor, has described Ms O’Doherty’s comments as offensive and hurtful to his family.

“She is trying to abuse Veronica’s name,” he told the Sunday Independent, saying she was propagating conspiracy theories.

However, on Twitter yesterday Ms O’Doherty seemed to stand over her controversial comments.

She claimed she had been told by a person in authority that Ms Guerin was “silenced because she was exposing high-level corruption in the gardaí and judiciary.”

In another post she claimed: “Veronica Guerin was exposing corruption at the highest levels of the justice system, and collusion between gardaí and criminals. Why was she hauled into court for speeding on the day of her murder when ‘reporters’ close to gardaí could get their offences wiped?”

She was challenged by other users on the social media platform to produce evidence to back up her claims.

*This article was amended on September 3rd, 2018