Gavin Duffy gets council nomination for Presidential bid
BUSINESSMAN Gavin Duffy received the nomination of Wicklow County Council to contest the Presidential election after Senator Joan Freeman withdrew having already received the four nominations she required.
A special meeting of Wicklow County Council was held on Monday evening with Dragon’s Den star Gavin Duffy and Senator Freeman, the founder of Pieta House, the two candidates proposed. Both Presidential hopefuls had outlined their goals at a county council meeting held the previous Monday.
Cllr Christopher Fox proposed Mr Duffy and was seconded by Cllr Jim Ruttle.
Cllr Fox stressed how important he felt it was for councillors to provide the electorate with different voting options.
‘In my mind, I feel there should be as wide a choice on the ballot paper as possible. We need to vote for one or other of the proposed candidates and give them the opportunity. It would be disappointing if members decided to abstain as this would be in effect restricting the ballot for the electorate to very few people.’
Cllr Fox then outlined why he was proposing Mr Duffy.
‘He has a diverse background in business and is involved in certain charities. He struck me as someone extremely capable and competent and I think we should afford him the opportunity to get on the ballot paper’.
Cllr Ruttle said he had been impressed by Mr Duffy’s presentation last week.
‘He completely answered all the questions put to him and also told us his values. I was particularly impressed by his knowledge of the Constitution and the history of the office’.
While Cllr Joe Behan was proposing Senator Freeman, he was in agreement that all councillors should exercise their right to nominate a Presidential candidate.
He went on to praise Senator Freeman for her work in forming Pieta House and her emphasis on mental health as part of her campaign.
‘Coming from an educational background, I see the anxieties and mental health issues which is one of the major issues for children, both at primary and secondary level. The lack of services is also clearly evident and it’s welcome that Senator Freeman had made mental health one of her key issues’.
Cllr John Snell seconded nominating Senator Freeman, stating: ‘It would be poignant on World Suicide Day to put our shoulder to the wheel and nominate Senator Joan Freeman as a Presidential candidate’.
Cllr Tommy Cullen praised the Presidency of Michael D Higgins and outlined his support for the sitting President.
‘He has been an ambassador of excellence and is highly respected internationally as the President of the Irish state. He played a vital role the 1916 celebrations and his visit to the UK was a diplomatic triumph,’ he said.
As Cllr Cullen continued speaking, Mr Duffy approached Cathaoirleach Pat Vance to show him a news update on his phone.
Cllr Vance then announced a ten minute adjournment so it could be confirmed that Senator Freeman had just received her required fourth nomination from Galway County Council and was withdrawing her name from proceedings in Wicklow.
The meeting resumed after a short break and Councillors were asked if they were in agreement on Mr Duffy’s nomination or did they require a vote. With no dissenting voices in the chamber, Cllr Vance announced Mr Duffy as Wicklow’s Presidential nomination.
While Mr Duffy acknowledged that he ‘wasn’t expecting it to end like this’, he described the nomination as a ‘very special night for my family and myself ’.
He also acknowledged Senator Freeman for withdrawing her name.
‘It is a mark of the type of candidate she is in that she was gracious enough to do that. We had an agreement to leave the field open for democracy if one of us already received enough nominations. The respect and regard we have for one another is special and will remain so heading into the campaign,’ said Mr Duffy.
Gavin Duffy received the backing of Wicklow County Council at a meeting on Monday.