Wednesday 16 October 2019

Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher responds to criticism on 'track record of public service' since 2011 campaign

  • Responds to critics about his 'track record of public service' in the last seven years
  • Mr Gallagher says he has been working 'for a mix of business and not-for-profit' since the last election
  • 'You can't judge me... on the last seven years' - Sean Gallagher says it is about his lifetime of achievement
  • Says his motivation is 'to make a difference'
Sean Gallagher (Liam McBurney/PA)
Sean Gallagher (Liam McBurney/PA)
Sean Gallagher with his wife Trish and children Lucy (2) and Bobby (5) at the Pregnancy and Baby Fair at the RDS. Photo: Collins
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher has responded to criticism on his track record of public service over the last seven years.

The presidential hopeful said he has been "very active and very busy" since his presidential campaign in 2011.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke, he said he had to "dig deep" after his loss to President Michael D 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."

Sean Gallagher with his wife Trish and children Lucy (2) and Bobby (5) at the Pregnancy and Baby Fair at the RDS. Photo: Collins
Sean Gallagher with his wife Trish and children Lucy (2) and Bobby (5) at the Pregnancy and Baby Fair at the RDS. Photo: Collins

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."

The former 'Dragon' 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.

"I set out to do for jobs what Mary and Martin McAleese did for the peace process," he said.

"I built a new business providing office and industrial workspace in lots of areas around the country where we needed jobs.

"I created space largely outside of Dublin. Between the companies, and I don't take credit for the jobs, we created infrastructure for thousands of jobs.

"Every business that operates needs four things; a good idea, funding, a team to deliver and a place in which to do business."

Responding to a columnist's claim that it "cannot be said he has a track record of public service", Mr Gallagher listed jobs he was involved in previous to the year 2000.

When challenged by Sean O'Rourke, he replied; "You can't judge me as no more I can judge you on the last seven years, I judge you on a lifetime of achievement."

He said the two-year period after the last campaign "was not a case of licking my wounds".

"Anyone who has faced adversity has had to dig deep," Mr Gallagher continued.

"It's not about falling down. It's about getting back up. It's about having that inner courage and resilience to get back up.

"If I take you to every area of my life, my message will always be the same.

"I am not just a business person, as that commentator you're referring to said.

"I do what I do in business not for the money but to make a difference."

He continued; "It's important to understand my motivation."

He refused to comment on Arlene Foster's interview today in The Telegraph, in which she said she admired Boris Johnson's Brexit ideas and believed the Good Friday Agreement was not "sacrosanct".

Earlier in the interview, Mr Gallagher said there were "lessons to be learned" after Tweetgate, in which a bogus tweet was read out and put to him during the final presidential debate on RTÉ ahead of the 2011 election.

Mr Gallagher had been polling ahead of the other contenders but went on to lose to Michael D Higgins. He has since settled a case with the State broadcaster.

"It was not my greatest performance and there were lessons for RTÉ too," he said.

Mr Gallagher said his focus is "not on 2011, but now".

He continued; "I've said that there isn't a taxi man or anyone on the Luas, or the DART in from Greystones where I live who says to me, 'you know what you should have said? There's nothing wrong with fundraising, it's part of the political work of every political party'.

"The party I was fundraising for was in government at the time, it was to campaign for the Lisbon Treaty.

"I am proud of my time with Fianna Fáil," he said, adding that he may have raised between €5,000 and €10,000 in a lifetime for the party.

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