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Presidential hopeful Peter Casey justifies helicopter use in campaign



Presidential hopeful Peter Casey

Presidential hopeful Peter Casey

Presidential hopeful Peter Casey

Presidential hopeful and businessman, Peter Casey, has conceded using a helicopter to attend three crucial local council meetings in quest of a nomination was wrong on environmental grounds.

But the former Dragons’ Den guru insisted he can also win four councils’ support and get on the ballot paper in time for the presidential election on October 26.

Two panellists on the RTÉ business show, where hopeful entrepreneurs pitch for potential investment, will be candidates.  Seán Gallagher, a controversial runner-up in 2011, has already got the necessary four councils’ backing, while Gavin Duffy has three councils and the promise of a fourth.

The former Dragons’ Den panellist told Kildare County Councillors that the need to deploy a helicopter was partly caused by President Higgins’s delay in stating his intentions about standing again until the last minute this summer. 

President  Higgins has repeatedly brushed aside allegations of “political gamesmanship” about the timing of his announcement in June that he would seek a second seven year term in Áras an Uachtaráin.

Speaking after the Kildare meeting in Naas, Mr Casey said President Higgins had “gone against the spirit of the Constitution” by not giving potential opponents more notice.

“I used a helicopter, at my own expense, to go between three councils. I did it because I said I was serious about standing for the presidency and I wanted to show that,” Mr Casey told Independent.ie.

The Derry-born businessman, who has lived in Britain, Australia, and the USA, added that, if elected president, he would avoid using Air Corps helicopters and the government jet.

Mr Casey said the three participants in the RTÉ show, Dragons’ Den, engaging in the election was simply “pure coincidence.” He added that another “Dragon,” Norah Casey, might also have been a great candidate.

He said that more than 10 councils have not engaged in endorsing the trio set to be on the ballot paper, something which made him very hopeful he can also be endorsed by four councils.

Kildare County Councillors heard presentations from other hopefuls, Sarah Louise Mulligan and Gemma O’Doherty.

Nominated candidate, Seán Gallagher, addressed the council and another likely candidate, Gavin Duffy, was present to canvass the councillors ahead of a vote not expected until September 24.

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Peter Casey appealed to all councils, which have not already used their presidential nomination slot, to please use it.  He said councillors always wanted a greater say in things – and this was now their opportunity.