Fianna Fáil TD paid €9,600 for PR advice from the son of Áras hopeful Duffy
A Fianna Fáil TD paid almost €10,000 for public relations advice from presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy's company.
Declan Breathnach has described himself as a "life-long friend" of businessman and 'Dragons' Den' star Mr Duffy.
He has publicly declared that he is supporting Mr Duffy's bid for Áras an Uachtaráin, breaking ranks with Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party, which is backing President Michael D Higgins for a second term.
The PR advice was provided by Mr Duffy's son Lorcan, who was working for his father's company Gavin Duffy & Associates. The company's website says it has "worked with Ireland's most influential leaders" and claims its expertise in business and communications "guarantees results, every time".
Lorcan Duffy was seconded to Mr Breathnach's office for six months beginning at the end of April 2017.
Mr Breathnach used his public representation allowance - a vouched payment available to TDs - to cover the cost of the work.
Last night, Mr Breathnach told the Irish Independent he had sought advice from Gavin Duffy & Associates and this was offered through Lorcan Duffy.
He said it was "legitimate and invoiced and totally above board".
Gavin Duffy said the TD was invoiced €1,600 including VAT each month. That comes to €9,600 over six months.
Asked if Mr Breathnach will play a part in his election campaign, he said that, as of yet, "there is no campaign", pointing out that he is still seeking the support of four local authorities to get on the ballot paper.
"I am hoping people from all political parties and none will support me for president."
Mr Duffy attended the Galway Races where he said he was open to the scrutiny he will face in the weeks ahead.
"I am very conscious that I'm running for president. People need to know the character, the values and the integrity of the person who's running," he said.
He added: "I do know there's nothing in my business dealings I'd be concerned about."
Despite both coming from business and reality TV backgrounds, he believes he has little in common with US President Donald Trump.
"I do not admire his politics and I admire less his business dealings," the 58-year-old said.
Mr Duffy said he had received advice from former presidential hopeful and 'Dragons' Den' co-star Seán Gallagher, who came second in the race against Mr Higgins in 2011.
"Seán didn't try to put me off it. What Seán said was because of my media experience and advising politicians, which I have done over the years, he said 'if there's one person that could pull it off, it might be yourself'. That was heartening to hear," he said.