Seán Gallagher asks councils to nominate other candidates
Businessman appears with other would-be candidates at Sligo County Council meeting
Gemma O’Doherty: clashed with council chairman Martin Baker over filming of the hearing. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Businessman Seán Gallagher has said he has asked councils who had proposed nominating him for the presidency to back other candidates in the interests of democracy.
He told councillors at Sligo County Council on Wednesday that he was not seeking further nominations, having already secured endorsements from four local authorities.
He said he had already suggested to those other councils who had proposed nominating him to advance other candidates, “because democracy is best served when you have the widest choice”.
He pledged if elected to launch a year-long initiative in the area of disability, which he said would focus “not on disability, but on ability”.
Praising President Michael D Higgins for “striking the right note” in the centenary commemorations marking the 1916 raising and the 1913 lockout, Mr Gallagher told councillors he would not be engaging in negativity during the campaign.
Entrepreneur Peter Casey told councillors he did not think people realised the “crisis coming down the line” when US tax laws change.
Mr Casey reiterated his view that the President’s salary is too high and said he believed the term of office should be five years and not seven years, with the election coinciding with local elections.
He said President Higgins had initially indicated that he would stand for one term only, and had known for a long time that he was going to run again. If he had made this known earlier it would have made it easier for local authorities to meet more candidates. “There were 10 meetings last Monday,” he added.
Journalist Gemma O’Doherty said President Higgins had “deceived” the Irish people when he said he would only serve for one term.
She also criticised the removal of housing campaigners from a property in Dublin on Tuesday night.
Addressing county councillors , Ms O’Doherty said she was in a state of shock and “beyond disturbed” to see men in balaclavas alongside gardaí during an operation to remove “young people protesting about the housing crisis”.
She called on the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner to explain who these men were. She said she was profoundly concerned about the plight of people who were losing their homes.
Roscommon farmer John Groarke said he was a “second-class citizen” having to appear before local authorities to seek a nomination. “The President can nominate himself but I have not that right and that makes me a second-class citizen.”
Artist Kevin Sharkey referred councillors to a media report suggesting he had previously worked as an escort. “That word means different things in different places, ” he said adding that in his case it had “nothing to do with sex”.
He told councillors he was asking them to give them people of Ireland a real choice “not just four successful businessmen and one senator”.
Dublin-born Sarah Louise Mulligan told councillors she was “pro-life” and “proud”. She said her focus was on combating elder abuse, child abuse and homelessness.
Ms O’Doherty clashed with the Cathaoirleach, Fianna Fáil councillor Martin Baker and officials who had asked an unidentified person filming in the public gallery to stop or to leave the chamber after strong objections from Fine Gael councillor Hubert Keaney.
She said the public was entitled to see what is happening “in our chamber” . “What are you afraid of ?” she asked.
After the would-be candidates finished their contributions and withdrew from the chamber, Councillor Keaney said he had asked that the rules be observed and he did not want the impression to go out that the council was against free speech.
Sligo councillors are due to meet again on September 24th to consider any proposals nominating a candidate. It is understood that motions have already been received supporting Mr Gallagher and Mr Casey .