FF and FG councillors give support to Gallagher
Seán Gallagher has support among both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil councillors to contest the presidential race amid mounting speculation a rerun of the 2011 battle between the businessman and Michael D Higgins is likely.
Seven councillors in seven counties have come out in support of a fresh bid for the Áras by the former 'Dragons' Den' investor, who came second to Mr Higgins seven years ago following the 'Tweetgate' controversy during the final televised debate on RTÉ.
In a significant development Mr Gallagher has the support of a Fine Gael councillor, John McCartin (Leitrim), and two Fianna Fáil councillors - Wayne Harding (Meath) and Niall Kelleher (Kerry) - along with four Independent reps.
Both parties have endorsed Mr Higgins for a second term in office and have urged all members not to support another candidate.
However, all three have said they intend to support Mr Gallagher despite the position of their respective parties.
Mr McCartin said he had not had any direction from the party.
Meanwhile, councillor Wayne Harding said he had been impressed by Mr Gallagher's 2011 campaign.
"He dealt with the loss with dignity. It was proven that he did nothing wrong. I think he deserves a second chance. He's a good family man now and I'm very happy to support him," Mr Harding told the Irish Independent.
The group backing Mr Gallagher includes councillors from Roscommon, Westmeath, Wexford and Laois.
Ahead of the last campaign, Mr Gallagher secured the support of four local authorities - in the case of Leitrim without presenting to the local representatives - before asking other councils to back the other hopefuls seeking a nomination.
Supporters have indicated they believe he would easily secure the support of the requisite four local authorities.
Mr Gallagher is understood to be actively considering putting his name forward again and is due to make his decision on whether or not to contest in the coming weeks.
The Cavan man's former 'Dragons' Den' co-star Gavin Duffy is among a handful of Áras hopefuls who have been canvassing local authorities to shore up support.
Meetings have been held in Waterford and Carlow with further meetings scheduled in Cork and Leitrim.