Number seeking to contest presidential election swells further

Businessman Peter Casey joins fellow TV ‘dragons’ in race to secure nomination

Áras an Uachtaráin  said President Michael D Higgins would make a statement about his election campaign arrangements when he lodges his nomination papers. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Áras an Uachtaráin said President Michael D Higgins would make a statement about his election campaign arrangements when he lodges his nomination papers. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The number of candidates seeking to contest the presidential election has risen again after the businessman Peter Casey announced his intention to seek a nomination.

Mr Casey is to campaign for a nomination from local authorities over the coming weeks. Like other candidates, he must secure the endorsement of four local authorities or 20 members of the Oireachtas before September 26th to make it on to the ballot paper on election day, which is October 26th.

His entry into the race brings to three the number of former panellists from the RTÉ television series Dragons’ Den who are seeking an opportunity to become president.

Earlier this week Seán Gallagher, who finished second to Michael D Higgins in the 2011 presidential election, said he would seek a nomination, while businessman Gavin Duffy has been campaigning since earlier in the summer.

The other candidates who have declared they are seeking a nomination so far include journalist Gemma O’Doherty and artist Kevin Sharkey.

Lesser-known contenders seeking nominations include Marilyn Monroe impersonator and Donald Trump supporter Sarah Louise Mulligan, Roscommon farmer John Groarke, Athlone woman Marie Goretti Moylan, and musician James P Smyth.

Sinn Féin also intends to run a candidate but has not yet named the person who will take part in the contest.

Several candidates are due to address Kilkenny County Council seeking its nomination on Friday morning.

Mr Higgins will nominate himself and Áras an Uachtaráin said on Thursday evening that the President will make a statement about his campaign arrangements when he lodges his nomination papers. His spokesman declined to say when that would be.

Announcing his candidacy on Thursday morning, Mr Casey criticised Mr Higgins for “supporting” the governments of Cuba and Venezuela.

“I don’t believe in him supporting governments that are totalitarian and undemocratic at the Irish taxpayers’ expense,” Mr Casey said.

He also said that he would not take a salary if elected.

Mr Casey was criticised by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan who said his statement on not taking a salary “demeans the office of President”.

“I look forward, as a democrat, however, to a robust presidential campaign. I and the Fine Gael party will be fully supporting Michael D Higgins and no other candidate,” Mr Flanagan said.

Mr Flanagan also said that the inauguration of the next president would have to go ahead on November 11th, also the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which ended the first World War.

“This is an issue that has arisen by accident rather than design,” he said. “However, I think it’s possible for either President Higgins or his successor to have a very busy day on November 11th – to be inaugurated as President of Ireland and then perform the important official functions of the first World War commemoration.”