Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gallagher planning to save State €10m on leaflet costs

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Sean Gallagher suggested a plan yesterday to save €10m on election leaflet postal costs -- but refused to volunteer a cut in the €250,000 salary he could receive.

Mr Gallagher is calling on all presidential candidates to agree to one combined election leaflet for each of the State's three million voters rather than the taxpayer having to pay for separate leaflets for all of them.

He maintained this could reduce the leaflet postage bill for seven potential candidates from €11.63m to €1.66m.

The Department of the Environment confirmed last night that such a scheme was legally possible before polling day on October 27, but would require all the presidential candidates to sign up to it.

Both Gay Mitchell and Mary Davis last night expressed some level of support for the idea.

However, Mr Gallagher refused to volunteer a cut in the salary he would receive if elected president.

He warned that this could lead to an "independently wealthy" person offering to do the job for nothing.

"That's not where we need to go. It needs to be 'what's the job of work and how can we put the presidency to work'," he said.

The official salary of President Mary McAleese is €325,000, but she has taken a series of voluntary pay cuts, with the most recent bringing her in line with the new general pay cap of €200,000 in the public service.

According to an official source, the salary of the new president is likely to be the equivalent of the new Supreme Court Chief Justice's salary plus 10pc.

That would amount to around €250,000.

Mr Gallagher said he was running for the presidency because he wanted to put his shoulder to the wheel for his country, and not because of the salary.

The 'Dragons' Den' star called for other candidates to back his plan to cut down on election postage costs.


A Department of Environment spokesman confirmed it would not require any change in the Presidential Elections Act 1993.

"It would be open to candidates to work together on a combined leaflet for issue to voters provided they met the necessary requirements of An Post in relation to size etc, of a booklet or document and having regard to the legislative provision that a communication may not exceed 50 grammes in weight," he said.

But the agreement of all candidates will be required for such a scheme to work, and it is still possible that other candidates will emerge.

Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, who is the director of Gay Mitchell's presidential campaign, said he was considering going even further.

"I think there's a case for doing away with the costly election leaflet," he said.

Irish Independent

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