Presidential election: Gavin Duffy becomes official candidate

Businessman joins Joan Freeman, Sean Gallagher and Michael D Higgins in race

Gavin Duffy. Photograph: Collins/File photo

Gavin Duffy. Photograph: Collins/File photo


Businessman and Dragons’ Den panellist Gavin Duffy has secured the endorsement of a fourth local authority, which guarantees him a place on the ballot for next month’s presidential election.

Mr Duffy, an independent candidate, said it was a relief to have members of Waterford City and County Council add to the endorsements he previously received from councils in Carlow, Wicklow and Meath.

He will contest the election along with Senator Joan Freeman, businessman and former Dragons’ Den panellist Seán Gallagher, who have both secured the backing of four councils, President Michael D Higgins and a Sinn Féin candidate, who the party has said it will announce on Sunday.

A number of councils are yet to nominate a candidate which means other hopefuls could yet secure a spot on the ballot paper before the September 26th cut-off date. Independent members of the Oireachtas have also been discussing if they should nominate a candidate to run in the October 26th election.

Five presidential hopefuls travelled to Dungarvan on Friday to address Waterford County Council including Mr Gallagher, who asked councillors not to put him forward for endorsement as he had already secured his nomination.

The only other candidate to be proposed and seconded in Waterford was journalist and campaigner Gemma O’Doherty, who was backed by Independent councillors Sean Reinhardt and Joe Kelly.

Mr Duffy won the endorsement by 14 votes to two, with members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour supporting him.


Sinn Féin’s Cllr John Hearne abstained and there were a number of council members absent.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Duffy said: “On one level I am so relieved to have crossed the line in achieving the nomination. I am also very humbled to get that support from right across the chamber.”

Having received the required number of endorsements, Mr Duffy said he would ask other councils to back a different candidate.

“I have spoken to about 450 councillors around the country and the amount of work, effort and time that you put in . . . I think it’s a shame it’s a secret to the broader world out there, the amount of work you do,” he said.

Earlier, the council heard from another former Dragons’ Den panellist Peter Casey as well as Ms O’Doherty, Sarah Louise Mulligan, and Newry-based businessman John O’Hare, who only entered the race on Thursday. Four other candidates had addressed the council in July.

Mr Gallagher also took the opportunity to tell the council members he did not want them to nominate him as he already had the four endorsements needed, and said, if elected president, he “will work with every fibre of [HIS]being for those on the margins: geographically, socially, economically, emotionally.”


Ms O’Doherty told councillors she was seeking a nomination, “in the furtherance of my desire to serve the cause of truth, justice and integrity for, and on behalf of, the Irish people”.

She said the country was suffering from a culture of “corruption and clientelism, which is having a deeply damaging effect on democracy and on the relationship between the politicians and citizens”.

Ms O’Doherty highlighted issues including housing, healthcare, a free press, and corruption as those that are important to her.

“It’s quite clear that the previous incumbents and the current [PRESIDENT]have been members of the elite in Ireland, that have brought our country to its knees time and time again,” she said.

“I believe the previous incumbents, and the current, have not pushed the presidency to the limits that they can. Their job is to be on the side of citizens and highlighting the needs of our people.”