Friday 22 September 2017

'Dragon's Den' star could help fire up campaign

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

'DRAGON'S Den' star Sean Gallagher is Fianna Fail to his fingertips and has a strong association with the party at local and national level.

He is considered a strong contender for the FF slate of candidates in Louth at the General Election if he can be convinced to take up any offer.

Originally from Ballyhaise, Co Cavan, Mr Gallagher now lives in Blackrock, the same village as Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, and is the representative for Louth on the Fianna Fail national executive.

He was also director of elections for local TD and current Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk at the 2007 General Election and is a long-time party activist, stretching back to his time as a member of Ogra Fianna Fail.

Mr Gallagher was born with congenital cataracts and was almost blind as a child but he says surgery saved his sight.

After school, he attended agricultural college before getting a job with Ballyhaise co-operative. After a car crash ruled him out of farming, he was asked to work with local youth groups because of his previous experience with organisations like Macra na Feirme.

He enrolled in a youth work course in Maynooth in 1985 and was later asked by the Department of Health to write a national education programme on alcohol.

At the age of 28, he was appointed political adviser to then-Fianna Fail Health Minister Dr Rory O'Hanlon, who held the portfolio in the late-1980s when health cuts were implemented. He often cites Dr O'Hanlon -- who announced his own retirement from the Dail yesterday -- as one of his greatest influences.

But when Albert Reynolds was appointed Taoiseach in 1992, he purged a number of Charlie Haughey's cabinet members, including Dr O'Hanlon, and Mr Gallagher found himself out of a job.

Launch

In 1995, he was appointed CEO of Louth Enterprise Board but left in 2000 to launch his own business with partner Derek Roddy.

Two years later, the pair launched 'Smarthomes', a company specialising in manufacturing and installing cables and other technology in newly built homes. At its peak, the company employed 70 people and had a turnover of €10m.

Mr Gallagher recently left the business and took up his position on the popular RTE show 'Dragon's Den'.

Irish Independent

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