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Gavin Duffy defends hunting role as he seeks presidential nomination

Dragons’ Den star says he anticipates support from people involved in rural pursuits

Gavin Duffy said people who knew him from Dragon’s Den might say: “Oh, reality TV, another Trump president”, but insisted he would be I would be “very, very different”. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Businessman Gavin Duffy, who is seeking a nomination to run in the presidential election, has defended his involvement with hunting.

Best known for his role in the Dragons’ Den television series, Mr Duffy is a member of the Louth Hunt and a former chairman of the Hunting Association of Ireland.

“I defended the Ward Union Hunt, which is not a blood sport. The Ward Union Hunt holds the original, indigenous species of Irish red deer,” he said, when asked on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland if he was an advocate of blood sports.

“The Green Party wanted to ban it and if they had there was no plan for what we were going to do with the main herd of original Irish red deer in the country. The deer is never killed. Now some three died accidentally over 30 years or 20-odd years.

“But that’s something that I stand over. I was president of the Hunting Association. There are approximately 700,000 people around the country who are involved in rural pursuits - hunting, shooting, fishing - who are involved in farming, et cetera, and they know me. They know my track record and I think they will be supporting me.”

Mr Duffy characterised his involved with Dragon’s Den as much an advantage as a disadvantage to his potential campaign.

“Because people think, ‘Oh, reality TV, another Trump president’. I would be very, very different.”

President Michael D Higgins announced his intention to nominate himself to serve a second term in office earlier this month.

Mr Duffy, a regular speaker at conferences who also hosts training and advice events, said he would make a different president and that he had a proven record of helping and advising others.

He said Mr Higgins “talks to our head” while he would be different and would speak to “people’s hearts”.

Mr Duffy said he would love to be out meeting the people of Ireland, representing them. “I have enough energy for it. I will express the mood of the country at times of national tragedy and triumph.”

He acknowledged that he has advised the leaders of the two main political parties. As a professional speaker, he said, he would be able to speak for the country.

Mr Duffy is seeking a nomination from four local authorities and has accepted an invitation to speak at Waterford City and County Council on Tuesday at 4pm.

A number of others have expressed an interest in running for the presidency including Independent Senators Pádraig Ó Céidigh and Joan Freeman, and the artist Kevin Sharkey.