Wexford seals deal
Wexford councillors have voted to back after three of those seeking to join the race for the Áras set out their stall before a special council meeting. reports
WEXFORD COUNTY Council sealed the deal for businessman Sean Gallagher yesterday (Monday) to run in this year’s Presidential Election when they became the fourth council to back the runner-up of the 2011 campaign.
Two candidates had already received backing from councillors before setting out their stall in the council chamber last week – Sean Gallagher was promised a proposal by Independent councillor Ger Carthy, while Senator Joan Freeman had secured support from Fine Gael’s Cllr Paddy Kavanagh.
On Monday afternoon, Mr Gallagher secured 16 votes, with Ms Freeman receiving ten votes. There were five abstentions from the vote. Fianna Fáil and a number of Independent councillors cast their vote in favour of Mr Gallagher, while Fine Gael supported Ms Freeman.
Mr Gallagher was not present at Monday’s meeting but his proposer Cllr Ger Carthy, speaking on the candidate’s behalf, thanked both those who had voted for him and those who had, saying he was looking forward to the Presidential race and ‘ letting the games begin’.
Last Wednesday, three candidates set out their campaign, seeking a nomination for the Presidential campaign.
Sen Freeman was first to speak and she used her time to promote the importance of positive mental health, pointing out that all of the wider problems that affected Ireland stemmed back to this one issue.
Sen Freeman, who is a trained psychologist and the founder and former CEO of Pieta House, said she had been campaigning for mental health services since she was 17 and pointed out one particular case of a child who had spent 41 days in the adult psychiatric unit (nicknamed ‘ The Dungeon’) of Waterford Regional Hospital and saying that this was not acceptable. She also referred to the ongoing crisis in Wexford’s mental health service for adolescants.
While she acknowledged that the President had no executive powers, she believed they had the power of persuasion and influence.
She remarked to the councillors: ‘ You have listened to me. You’ve volunteered and donated. You’ve shown compassion but compassion is a crowded place – we all care but it’s time to do something. People can say that I’m a one trick pony but that ‘ trick’ is a massive issue.’
Cllr Michael Sheehan asked if there was any circumstance whereby she would refuse to sign a bill into law.
She replied: ‘If the bill was repugnant to the Constitution of this country. I voted no in the latest referendum but I would not refuse to sign the bill into law. My personal beliefs do not filter into my job.’
She believed that change could be affected through people power adding that if she was President she would not have to wait two years for legislation to pass as drawing attention to issues and problems was often key to starting a dialogue on them.
In relation to the proposed visit of US President Donald Trump, she said she would welcome him to Ireland and explain that Pieta House had two linked organisations in New York. She believed the role of President was about influencing, persuading and engaging with people.
PEOPLE CAN SAY THAT I’M A ONE TRICK PONY BUT THAT ‘TRICK’ IS A MASSIVE ISSUE
Entrepreneur Sean Gallagher used his time to speak not just about his current bid to become President but also his last one in 2011.
Referring to the ‘false tweet’ that derailed his campaign in 2011 on the RTE Front Line debate, he said he had responded to an accusation of collecting money from a man’s house earlier in the programme and to another national newspaper. He said the tweet had ‘caused me to doubt my own memory momentarily’.
He said was aware that many people had planned to vote for him but subsequently changed their mind and he regretted that people had seen him as someone he was not. He said he had taken his case against RTE not just for himself but for all those who were brave enough to stand for public office and who deserved fairness.
Of his current campaign, he stressed that he did not want to be Michael D. Higgins’ replacement but his successor. He said the country was seeing rapid change which lead to fear which lead to paralysis. He wanted to lead by example and by serving, and make sure that Ireland was seen as a place that was open and inclusive.
He belived that apathy would hold the country back as people had become disengaged from the country’s problems but he believed that everyone needed to work together and that more leaders were needed for people to look up to.
Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher with Cllr Ger Carthy who pledged to nominate him.