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Thursday 15 November 2018

'You never see ordinary Joe Soaps getting into high office' - Roscommon farmer wants to be President

John Groarke from Tulsk, Co Roscommon wants to be President of Ireland. Image. Shannonside FM
John Groarke from Tulsk, Co Roscommon wants to be President of Ireland. Image. Shannonside FM
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

With Incumbent President of Ireland Michael D Higgins odds-on to retain his position having confirmed he would run for a second term, he could face opposition from an unlikely candidate.

Roscommon farmer John Groarke is fed up with ‘well-heeled’ people continually securing the job of president of Ireland – and he is considering whether he will try and enter the race for the Aras.

“I feel the people that that running for these high offices are all very well paid most of them and the rural people of Ireland don’t get a look in at these jobs,” he said.

The small farmer from Tulsk in Co Roscommon told Shannonside Radio that “you never see ordinary Joe Soaps getting into high office.

“People have to have a lot of money, and that’s the way they portray it,” he said.

He went on to say that in a Republic it should be that everyone is equal. However, he said, “it doesn’t look that way a lot of the time”.

John Groarke said his based on the plight of the homeless and those who are badly treated in the Health Service
John Groarke said his based on the plight of the homeless and those who are badly treated in the Health Service

“I believe in a Republic it is the smaller person that is entitled to have a crack at it too.

“Some of these people are colossally well paid. Some of them are doctors and lawyers they have their jobs to fall back on if they don’t get in.

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“The small person or poorer person is fit to be president of Ireland just as well as these other people,” Mr Groarke said.

He said if he decides to run his campaign will be based on the plight of the homeless and those who are badly treated in the Health Service.

When asked how he would cope with moving to Áras an Uachtaráin and having a huge salary and pension, he responded: “I’d say I’d survive.

“It’s not about the salary really. It’s more about the fact that a rural person can rise to that high office."

Mr Groarke said he strongly disagreed with the nomination process for President which means he would need the support of a number of County Councils or Oireachtas members.

“That is something that shouldn’t be. As an Irish citizen, born in Ireland if I want to run for the presidency I should be entitled to that."

Meanwhile, Former Presidential Candidate Sean Gallagher looks set to enter the race for the Aras.

Mr Gallagher wrote to the Mayor and Cathoirleach of every local authority asking that they formally schedule time to hear from potential presidential nominees in the coming weeks.

Mr Gallagher was the front runner in the 2011 election but lost out to Michael D Higgins after he struggled to answer a question relating to a fake tweet during a RTE debate.

In the letter, Mr Gallagher said he has been contacted by a "large numbers of councillors" from around the country "who have expressed concern about the very limited time frame that now exists to all you and your colleagues exercise your right to nominate a Presidential Election candidate".

The letter notes that the Presidential Election is scheduled for October 25th next.

While not directly saying he intends to seek their support, he stated: "To provide sufficient time for this to happen, I would appeal to you directly, to give consideration to formally scheduling an agenda item for your September meeting to facilitate the members of the Council giving due consideration to candidates seeking a nomination. it is worth noting that councillors on 26 separate local authorities exercised this option to nominate a candidate during the 2011 Presidential Election."

Mr Gallagher added: "As I said repeatedly during the course of the 2011 Presidential Election, it is vital for everyone in public life to facilitate the process by which more candidates to come forward to more fully reflect the diverse and changing Ireland we now live in."

Mr Gallagher said his letter has been sent to each Mayor, Cathaoirleach and Chairperson of each local authority, and copied to each chief executive.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour have both backed Michael D Higgins in his bid for a second term, and Fine Gael are expected to follow suit following a private meeting of TDs and Senators on Wednesday night.

Sinn Féin are to decide whether they will field a candidate on Saturday and are expected to contest the election


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