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Profile

Mr Gallagher is a businessman and former political advisor who also contested the last presidential election in 2011. Then, he ran as an Independent candidate and finished second. However, his campaign was overshadowed by a fake tweet controversy during a live RTÉ debate which triggered a series of events that saw his numbers slip in the polls. He had been leading the presidential race prior to the show.

Much of the focus then was on his Fianna Fáil past. Mr Gallagher was a party member for 30 years prior to the last election. Between 1988 and 1990 he was a project coordinator at the National Youth Council of Ireland and worked on the country’s first alcohol education programme for young people. He was an advisor to former health minister Rory O’Hanlon and served on a number of State Boards and Community Enterprise schemes and partnerships.

The 56-year-old grew up in Cavan. He married his second wife Trish in 2010 and they have two children.

Key messages

Much of Mr Gallagher’s messages throughout his campaign have focused on building a better future for young people. He has promised to promote ability rather than disability by nurturing the country’s talents and opportunities while promoting healthy lifestyles. He has honed in on his background supporting small businesses and enterprises while also promising to promote the Irish language. He is not a natural Irish-speaker but wants to use a ‘Learn with the President’ initiative to encourage further use of it.

Strengths

Familiarity.  People remember Mr Gallagher from his last campaign and recognised that he was the candidate who was pipped in the final week by Mr Higgins. There is also a sense that he was hard done by following the fake tweet controversy.

His work on enterprise schemes and boosting small businesses served him well in his last campaign and he seems comfortable in his role as a campaigner.

Weaknesses

Questions about what he did over the course of the past seven years have popped up regularly in the campaign. He has not campaigned on major political issues in that time and said he spent much of his time since 2011 focusing on starting a family.

He has also been accused of arrogance over his refusal to take part in a television debate unless the incumbent also takes part. With President Higgins leading the way in the polls this has afforded the rest of the chasing pack more airtime at his expense. His 2011 support base also appears to have eroded.

Bookies odds

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In the region of 14/1 and 16/1 he is the second favourite but still a long shot.


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