Saturday 18 August 2018

Áras hopefuls should face more scrutiny - minister

Michael D’Arcy . Photo: Tom Burke
Michael D’Arcy . Photo: Tom Burke
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A government minister has called on local authorities to increase the level of scrutiny on presidential hopefuls.

Junior minister in the Department of Finance Michael D'Arcy has said, based on previous campaigns, he believes there should be more done by councillors to scrutinise prospective candidates.

"The process is three or four candidates - and it happened in the past - showed up at a local authority meeting and they all got nominated. I don't think that's giving due consideration to somebody who wants to be the head of State," he said.

"I think the local authorities should do a lot more scrutiny than they currently do before the nomination of somebody."

"I don't think they should do it just for the sake of it, just because they have the power to nominate somebody. They should be scrutinised, analysed, because it's a tough campaign.

"It's been a tough campaign in the past and I don't think that power should be taken lightly," he added.

Local authorities have a constitutional power which allows them to nominate a candidate to run. A prospective challenger needs the backing of four councils to lodge nomination papers.

Already one council has heard from election hopefuls. Businessman Gavin Duffy, Senator Joan Freeman and former Aer Lingus employee Patrick Feeney made their pitches to Waterford County Council.

No vote can take place on nominating a candidate before a presidential electoral order is signed, expected to happen next month.

Mr D'Arcy was speaking ahead of the announcement by the three candidates of their intentions to court local authority support.

When asked how he envisaged candidates should be scrutinised by councils, Mr D'Arcy said: "That's a matter for them. I just don't think it should be a very easy process."

Irish Independent

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