Sunday 17 December 2017

Electorate didn't want another FG victor, says Mitchell

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

FINE Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell last night defended getting the party's lowest vote in a presidential election, saying the electorate did not want a Taoiseach and president from the same party.

And he also accused people of "nit picking" for criticising his failure to show up at the declaration of the final count on Saturday, saying he was "tired" and had behaved "honourably" throughout the long campaign.

Mr Mitchell got just over 6pc of the national vote during the election, saying that organisational and strategic issues helped lose him the election.

It was the lowest-ever result for the government party in a presidential campaign.

Mr Mitchell would not speak to the Irish Independent yesterday, but told RTE News that he had congratulated President-elect Michael D Higgins both publicly and privately on Friday, when the results of the first count were announced.

"At no stage was my integrity, my ability, my energy or my conduct called into account," he said. "I lost it because people felt having a Fine Gael president and Fine Gael Taoiseach was not ideal. There's probably other reasons -- organisational reasons, strategic reasons.

"I was there. I did my duty. People want to nit-pick. I was on the platform if anyone wanted to meet me. I spoke to Michael privately and publicly and I wish him the best, he'll make a very fine president. I think it's sour grapes to be asking me this. I'm tired. I've behaved honourably throughout."

Asked if Taoiseach Enda Kenny had given him adequate support during the campaign, Mr Mitchell said he did not expect to see the Taoiseach on the trail too often.

"The Taoiseach is running the country. I didn't expect to see him out with me for months on end. He was out with me on a number of occasions," he added.

Meanwhile, the only other candidate not to appear at Dublin Castle on Saturday, Mary Davis, said her absence was a mistake.

"Genuinely I was unaware of the protocol," she said. "I didn't realise that I should have been there. I thought Saturday was there for Michael D, Sabina and their children. It was only when I saw the news I realised I should have been there."

Irish Independent

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