Wex­ford Coun­cil­lors put Gal­lagher in start­ing blocks

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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.

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.


In re­la­tion to a ques­tion from Cllr Johnny Mythen about the North of Ire­land and re­uni­fi­ca­tion, he re­marked: ‘I am of the bor­der coun­ties and I gen­uinely be­lieve that we’ll see a United Ire­land in my life­time. But it will start with a uni­fi­ca­tion of hearts and trust.’

When asked by Cllr John He­garty, who re­ferred to the late de­ci­sion to run on this oc­ca­sions, what he had been do­ing for the past seven years since the last elec­tion, Mr Gal­lagher ex­plained that the elec­tion had been gru­elling and he had taken time to re­cover from it. He said he had not taken lightly the de­ci­sion to chal­lenge RTE on the Front Line de­bate is­sue and said that that process had taken six years. He added that he did not be­lieve in fail­ure, but feed­back which he had re­ceived plenty of.

He had, he said, be­come a fa­ther over the past seven years, set up a busi­ness of­fer­ing workspaces to com­pa­nies, largely out­side of Dublin, and started writ­ing a col­umn pro­fil­ing en­trepreneurs and their achieve­ments.

He said be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur or, for that mat­ter, be­ing the Pres­i­dent, was not about mak­ing money but about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

He also agreed with Cllr Tony Dempsey on the no­tion of tack­ling cy­ber crime through new laws but he said that tech­nol­ogy was de­vel­op­ing so quickly that it was hard to keep up. He felt that ac­tion was be­gin­ning to be taken on the is­sue, re­markng that some­times it could only hap­pen af­ter dam­age had been done.

Cllr Ger Carthy, of­fer­ing his support to Mr Gal­lagher re­marked on the 20,000 votes the former Dragon’s Den judge had se­cured in the 2011 elec­tion, say­ing he was hope­ful that peo­ple would support his nom­i­na­tion of him.

Fi­nally, ac­tress Sarah Louise Mulligan spoke of how she wanted to be a Pres­i­dent who would cel­e­brate Ir­ish peo­ple, and mend peo­ple’s bro­ken hearts and souls with words and ac­tions.

The self-con­fessed Don­ald Trump fan said she had a keen in­ter­est in is­sues sur­round­ing child and el­der abuse, sui­cide, home­less­ness, preg­nancy and pro-life mat­ters.

In the area of men­tal health, she re­ferred to a case of an 11-year-old child who had an­nounced their in­ten­tion to com­mit sui­cide on a so­cial me­dia ac­count. She pledged to use the same plat­form to share videos that would help those feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble. She also felt that not enough was be­ing done about the is­sue of el­der abuse, some­thing she had writ­ten her col­lege the­sis on.

She pro­claimed to be ‘pro­life and proud’, say­ing that she would hap­pily do­nate some of her Pres­i­den­tial salary for the set­ting up of cri­sis preg­nancy cen­tres.

She added that she would have a big prob­lem with sign­ing off on leg­is­la­tion to re­move the Eighth Amend­ment, re­mark­ing that she and the Taoiseach would be ‘at log­ger­heads’ over it.

She said she ad­mired Don­ald Trump for his pro-life stance and for a lot of his poli­cies, say­ing she wanted Ire­land to be a place where peo­ple could speak their mind freely, adding that she would like to see more healthy de­bate on is­sues.

Cllr Davy Hynes re­ferred to her ad­mi­ra­tion for Trump, re­mark­ing that any­one could make a mis­take! He ac­knowl­edged that she had spo­ken about the abuse of peo­ple but said he could not rec­on­cile those con­cerns with her support for some­one who he saw to be a cul­prit of that.

‘You men­tioned free speech but there is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween that and hate speech,’ he pointed out.

Cllr Paddy Ka­vanagh wished Ms Mulligan well in her en­deav­ours, point­ing out that Peter Casey, an­other can­di­date, had re­marked that he would fil­ter his salary back to coun­cils who had backed him through their chair­man. He joked that coun­cil chair­man Keith Doyle was sin­gle and would gladly wel­come a move to Aras an Uachtarán!


Pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Sean Gal­lagher with Cllr Ger Carthy who pledged to nom­i­nate him.

Sen­a­tor Joan Free­man at Wex­ford County Coun­cil HQ.

Sarah Louise Mulligan at Wex­ford County Coun­cil.

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