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Saturday 25 February 2017

Presidential hopefuls make most of festival in Aras race

Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

It was the year the presidential race came to the Picnic.

While music was on the minds of the thousands who turned out for the festival, the Stradbally Estate in Co Laois was also a major target for candidates over the weekend.

Mindful of the weather forecast, supporters of Independent candidate Mary Davis distributed free ponchos bearing her name.

Labour's rival candidate Michael D Higgins, attending the event for the first time on Saturday, happily posed for pictures with festival-goers.

However, the Galway man, who is the favourite to win according to the latest 'Sunday Independent'/Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll, denied he was canvassing.

"That is not the reason I'm here. I am here because I was asked to speak about poetry at an event organised by Poetry Ireland, and to discuss issues of development aid, sustainability and justice," Mr Higgins told the Irish Independent.

Claiming he had been given a "great reception" by everyone he met, the former Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, described attendees of the Electric Picnic as "people who are thinking ahead in a lot of ways".

The presidential hopeful was accompanied in the Mindfield area by friend and supporter, Labour senator Ivana Bacik.

Irish Independent

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