‘I’d agree to take part in RTÉ debate’ – Gallagher

Seán Gallagher: Took legal action after the 2011 presidential debate. Photo: Kinlan Photography
Seán Gallagher: Took legal action after the 2011 presidential debate. Photo: Kinlan Photography

Presidential hopeful Seán Gallagher has said he would take part in RTÉ debates if he secures a nomination to contest the Áras despite effectively claiming the 2011 ‘Frontline’ debate cost him that election.

Mr Gallagher said he hoped his court case, settled earlier this year, led to lessons being learned at the broadcaster.

“I do hope RTÉ have learned some very valuable lessons as a result of the recent case, not just lessons about a fake tweet but lessons about audience participation, about how questions are written, and the number of questions each candidate gets,” he said. “The reason for taking that case is about democracy, not just about me but the need to make sure everybody who stands for public office can be guaranteed fairness as laid down in the broadcasting acts.”

During the final debate, Mr Gallagher was confronted with a tweet from an account with a similar user name to that of the official Martin McGuinness campaign, but not linked to Mr McGuinness, which said a man who claimed he had given a €5,000 cheque to Mr Gallagher would appear at a press conference the next day.

The businessman received ‘substantial damages’ following his action taken against RTÉ as a result.

“I will await and see what the process is, going forward. There are traditionally a number of presidential debates. I would like to be part of those and again we will be looking to see what are the plans for those,” he said.

Mr Gallagher was speaking after addressing Roscommon County Council.

He was one of several hopefuls before the council and was proposed by two councillors immediately after the meeting. A vote will take place on Monday to formally back the council’s nominee.

The former ‘Dragon’s Den’ investor refused to be drawn on his ex-colleague Gavin Duffy’s comments that he would get a “sympathy” vote.

“I’m only interested – and I’m sure the people of Ireland are only interested – in running a positive campaign that is focused only on the presidency,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Co Louth, Mr Duffy was the only prospective candidate to make a pitch to councillors there.

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Asked who else he believed should be on the ticket, he said it would be unfair to answer it, saying “I am very friendly with Seán,” and acknowledging “that leads to suggestions you are working together”.

In Co Roscommon, artist Kevin Sharkey said he believed the death penalty is appropriate for a person who harms an elderly person in their home.

Senator Joan Freeman told the council she supported the right of the Irish diaspora to vote in presidential elections and said she agreed there should be a representative from local government on the Council of State.

Irish Independent

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