‘Fat Freddie’ Thompson's ex Vicky among fans wowed by Michael D Higgins as he hits campaign trail
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins surprised shoppers in the city centre as he began his campaign for a second term in earnest by pressing the flesh.
Accompanied by wife Sabina he spent time shaking hands, chatting and posing for photographs with passers-by.
Among those he met and posed with was Vicky Dempsey, the former partner of ‘Fat Freddie’ Thompson, the notorious gangland figure currently doing time for murder.
Dempsey, who has since moved on from her relationship with the thug, has been working as a flower seller in the city and looked delighted to meet with the president.
“I always used to buy my flowers here,” Sabina said, and Dempsey gave her a big hug.
Mr Higgins looked equally comfortable mixing with the public. Babies were being thrust forward to be kissed.
People pressed eagerly forward to thank him for being “such a great President”.
Bubbling over with excitement, a girl rang her mother to loudly inform her that she was “on Grafton Street with Michael D”.
The canvass was scheduled for 3.30pm but for almost an hour beforehand, his team was waiting for him at the top of the street, leaflets in hand.
Dragons’ Den star Gavin Duffy also launched his presidential campaign yesterday.
He claimed he will tackle social media companies who know who the child abusers on their platform are – even though the presidency has no legislative powers to do so.
Mr Duffy said if elected he will take on the big technology firms in a bid to stamp out the online exploitation of young people.
He also said he has a “particular skillset” to help with the Brexit negotiations – even though the president’s office has no role in political talks.
“Let’s talk about our teenage children in the safety of their bedrooms,” Mr Duffy told reporters.
“They can be preyed upon by paedophiles. All of those major social platforms know your every predilection.
“They know you better than you know yourself, because they sell your information to somebody else.
“They know who the child abusers are, who the paedophiles are. This could be sorted like that [clicks fingers] if we were to make them responsible.
“These huge media platforms, who are making billions on the back of us, what they are getting away with is telling us as parents ‘you police it, you be in the bedroom’.
“I think that is wrong,” Mr Duffy added.
Another presidential hopeful who was on Dragons’ Den, Sean Gallagher, responded to criticism on his track record of public service over the last seven years.
Mr Gallagher said he has been “very active and very busy” since his presidential campaign in 2011.
Speaking to RTE Radio One with Sean O’Rourke yesterday, he said he had to “dig deep” after his loss to Mr Higgins and the ‘Tweetgate’ saga.
“It took me about 18 months, two years to get over it,” he said. “Like many people in the country, I was starting again. I am very lucky to have a wonderful wife and we started a family.
“I had to dig deep and started a new business.”
Mr Gallagher said he continued to do what he had outlined in his 2011 campaign, “a commitment to jobs, to SMEs, to helping people and to inspiring the next generation of business leaders”.
He said he has been working “for a mix of business and not-for-profit” since the last election.
“I laid out a platform for the time of high unemployment and high emigration,” he said.
“I set out to do for jobs what Mary and Martin McAleese did for the peace process.”