Peter Casey secures place on ballot for presidential election

Businessman is third ‘Dragons’ Den’ panellist to make it on to ballot and sixth overall

Peter Casey is the sixth candidate confirmed to contest  the presidential election. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

Peter Casey is the sixth candidate confirmed to contest the presidential election. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

 

Three people who have served as panellists on the Dragons’ Den TV series will be on the ballot paper for next month’s presidential election after businessman Peter Casey won the backing of a fourth local authority.

Mr Casey, a Co Derry born businessman, was endorsed by Tipperary County Council and Limerick City and County Council on Tuesday, adding to the support he had secured from councillors in Clare and Kerry on Monday.

His is the sixth name confirmed on the ballot paper for the election along with Dragons’ Den panellists Seán Gallagher and Gavin Duffy, Senator Joan Freeman, Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada and the incumbent, President Michael D Higgins. Four of the six candidates have won the backing of four local authorities with Ms Ní Riada nominated by Sinn Féin members of the Oireachtas and Mr Higgins able to nominate himself as the office holder.

The election takes place on October 26th and nominations close on September 26th.

In Tipperary, Mr Casey won the support of 13 councillors while journalist Gemma O’Doherty was backed by eight. He was backed by a mix of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and independent members.

“I’m so excited to get, now, into the race proper,” Mr Casey said after the vote. “I thought it would work out this way, I was the last person into the race and I knew I would be the last one to get over the line. It’s a big relief. I can go to the ploughing competition tomorrow and relax.”

Ms O’Doherty said she intended to seek the support of the remaining councils.

Longford County Council is expected to decide later if it will nominate a candidate while councils in Donegal, South Dublin, Kildare, Louth and Monaghan are yet to back anyone.

Offaly and Laois councils decided not to nominate anyone on Monday and Kilkenny County Council defeated a motion to nominate Ms O’Doherty by seven votes to five.

During his pitch in Tipperary, Mr Casey spoke of the importance of reaching out to the diaspora as there are more than 70 million people worldwide who call themselves Irish.

He also emphasised the importance of education and referred to Ireland’s past reputation as “the island of saints and scholars,” adding: “I want to relight that educational fire”.

Mr Casey reiterated his view that the president’s expenses should be made public, that a president should not be allowed to nominate himself or herself for re-election, and that the presidency should have a five-year term with elections taking place at the same time as local authority elections.

Ms O’Doherty told councillors she “would worry about the fact now that we have three businessmen going forward into this race, with pretty much the same track record”.

She also told councillors that her concerns include free speech, a free press, homelessness, healthcare, truth and justice.

“We do not have a free press in Ireland and this is deeply damaging to democracy. There are influences now within Irish society which threaten free speech and threaten press freedom.”