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'Super Monday': Gavin Duffy secures first nomination from Meath County Council

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Gavin Duffy pictured with his wife Orlaith Carmody. Photo: David Conachy

Gavin Duffy pictured with his wife Orlaith Carmody. Photo: David Conachy

Gavin Duffy pictured with his wife Orlaith Carmody. Photo: David Conachy

Dragons’ Den investor Gavin Duffy has secured the first of four local authority nominations needed to get on the presidential ballot paper.

A major of councillors in his native Meath gave him their support at a special meeting this afternoon.

Six local authorities are holding special meetings to discuss the presidency today – but only Meath, which has already heard from prospective candidates, was in a position to vote.

Mr Duffy got 17 votes, compared to seven for Sean Gallagher and two for Joan Freeman.

Mr Duffy took to the chamber again in Wicklow moments after learning of his nomination in Meath.

He told councillors he is the first person to secure a nomination in the 2018 Presidential Election. The mix of parties who voted for him show he is a "cross party" candidate he said, noting that Fine Gael councillors broke ranks to support him.

Earlier Senator Freeman told the council she believed the Dragons were likely to secure a nomination but appealed for the council to back her, saying the election needed to be about more than business and entrepreneurship.

Mr Gallagher made a pitch to Leitrim County Council today where is expected to win a vote.

Within an hour of his presentation, councillors Mary Bohan (FF), John McCartin (FG) and Enda Stenson (IND) placed separate motions proposing that the council back Mr Gallagher.

They will formally vote next Monday.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Kerry, Councillor Norma Foley, introduced four candidates who travelled to Tralee to personally address council members this morning at a special meeting.

Kerry Co Council will vote on September 17 on whether to nominate any candidate to contest the election with President Michael D Higgins, who is seeking a second term, and a yet-to-be-identified Sinn Fein candidate.

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Kerry Co Council was not addressed by Mr Gallagher who is instead focusing on securing nominations from Leitrim, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal Co Councils.

Four candidates - Mr Duffy, James Smyth, Gemma O'Doherty and William Delaney 1957-1970- addressed Kerry council members on why they should be nominated.

Mr Duffy, who is also addressing Wicklow and Cork councils today, outlined his five pillar election campaign which is focused on youth, age, diversity, respect and working together.

The communications specialist confirmed that, if elected, he will introduce a protocol to ensure there is full transparency on what is spent in Aras an Uachtarain on travel, accommodation, transport and catering.

"In Ireland of today, I see the president's 'soft' power as a combination of advocacy, representation, encouragement and acknowledgement for the people - for those who feel marginalised and for people who might feel they have never really had a president for them.

"And for the many people who want to right a wrong, mobilise a community or lead positive change for a better Ireland."

Mr Duffy was very complimentary of the presidency of Michael D Higgins but said he would offer something different and more focused on harnessing the power of people and their talents.

Musician and lecturer James Smyth appealed for a nomination as he vowed to work to ensure Ireland was a better democratic republic.

Mr Smyth revealed, to laughter, that President Michael D Higgins once worked as his booking agent for music gigs in the Galway area - and his group were once supported by U2.

Artists and musicians, he said, have proudly served as ambassadors for Ireland for years.

"The presidency, it seems it is an easier gig than what I have been doing for the past 45 years."

He also warned that Ireland has to fight hard to retain democratic values and norms.

"I would not want to see a democratic republic turned into a conglomerate," he said.

Journalist Gemma O'Doherty said she would use the presidency to "shine a light" on cases of corruption, social disadvantage and marginalisation in Irish life.

She said she had campaigned to highlight various issues of corruption and injustice in Irish life - and warned that the Dail was not now serving the best interests of the Irish people.

"I have reached a point where I believe I need a louder platform," she said.

Ms O'Doherty, when questioned by one councillor, said she had chosen the presidential election and that a Dail candidacy was "not a consideration" at the moment.

She also said she was "devastated" by some of the things being said about her over the past two weeks.

"I am repulsed at the allegations that have been made against me in recent days," she said.

Ms O'Doherty further claimed that a vendetta was being waged against her.

The fourth and final candidate to speak was Seamas Nolan who has changed his name by deed poll to 'William Delaney 1957-1970' as part of a campaign to honour those who were in State and Church institutions.

William Delaney was a young boy who was sentenced to six years in Letterfrack for stealing bread to feed his hungry family in 1966.

He died in 1970, several days after being struck in the head with a broom handle by a cleric at Letterfrack.

The presidential campaign bid is aimed at honouring William and all those who died while in industrial schools, mother and baby homes and other State and Church institutions.

Between 1869 and 1969, 145,889 Irish children were committed to industrial and reform schools.

In Letterfrack alone, 147 children died.

"This would be a huge symbolic gesture," he told Kerry councillors.

"It would pay an historic tribute to the most vulnerable of our citizens."

"It would be an unprecedented act of respect."

The campaign, he said, would be backed by GoFundIt online donations.

Multiple tributes were paid by councillors to the idea of the campaign and the need to honour those who suffered at the hands of the State and Church.

Kerry Co Council will vote on September 17 about which candidate, if any, to support for the presidential election.


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