Gavin Duffy may have lost more than just his expenses

Businessman only won 32,198 number one votes – or just 2.2 per cent of the total

Businessman Gavin Duffy secured just over 2 per cent of the vote in the presidential election. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Businessman Gavin Duffy secured just over 2 per cent of the vote in the presidential election. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Gavin Duffy tried to take his wooden spoon finish the presidential election in good spirits, but the businessman may have lost more than just the chance to reclaim his expenses from the bruising contest.

Taking to the podium in Dublin Castle after Michael D Higgins made his acceptance speech on Saturday night, Duffy joked he was glad speaking time for those making concession speeches was not allocated on the basis of first preference votes.

Coming sixth and last, Duffy only won 32,198 number one votes – or 2.2 per cent of the total – and 3.8 per cent behind Joan Freeman, who finished fifth.

A series of poor interviews during the campaign, across print and broadcast media, may damage Duffy’s longer term interests.

His company, Gavin Duffy and Associates, specialises in media training and communications and its website says he and his wife Orlaith Carmody, at Duffy’s side throughout the campaign, “know what it takes to become an excellent communicator”.

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As Duffy lurched from poor interview to poor interview, colleagues of his in the communications sector almost winced as his professional reputation suffered along with his chances of a decent showing come polling day.

Senior figures in the industry privately said Duffy’s entire presidential endeavour – including promising policy papers, some of which did not materialise – has caused damage to his business that will take time to repair.

Duffy, however, disputes this.

“That would be a fair comment from some, but I don’t think it will damage my business,” he said on Saturday.

“The general comment, if I was to judge by social media, was that I conducted myself with dignity and respect for others throughout.”

He said his only regret was the money – an estimated €100,000 - that he lost fighting the campaign, and claimed if the issues he raised during the campaign did not resonate with the public then perhaps he was “slightly ahead of where public concerns are around the changes we are facing in society”.

Duffy did not rule out running for public office again but said “there’s a perception amongst the public that it’s a bit audacious that the first office you run for is the head of State.... there’s two things in life, you either succeed or you learn”.

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