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Profile

The Pieta House founder is an Independent Senator and mental health campaigner. She was nominated to the Seanad by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2016. She is the chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care.

She is 60-years-old and from Clontarf in Dublin but now lives in Lucan. She has three children and one grandchild.

She founded the suicide intervention charity in 2006 which is known for its flagship annual fundraiser event Darkness in to Light which helps raise money for the charity and create awareness of mental health challenges. The walk is now a global event with thousands of participants annually.

She recently put forward a bill in the Seanad calling for children from being prohibited from being admitted to adult psychiatric care units.

Key Messages

Ms Freeman said her presidency would focus on building strong communities and promoting mental well-being if she is elected.

She has promised to encourage increased volunteerism by extending the President’s Gaisce awards to people of all ages instead of only including young people between 15 and 25-years-old.

She has also promised to link in with the diaspora and to work closely with the Government to enhance the country’s image globally. She has promised to host an annual ‘Day of Wellness’ at Áras an Uachtaráin to promote positive physical and mental health. She wants to promote initiatives to help older people learn new skills and put them at the heart of communities and she wants to tackle challenges young people face, such as cyber-bullying. She also wants young people to be represented at the Council of State.

Likely strengths

Pieta House and the Darkness in to Light events are instantly recognisable and her involvement in founding both must be a significant benefit. Her background as a current Senator gives her a political kudos over some of her rivals who have less political experience. Her issues are also relatable, well-documented and resonate with the public. Her charity work, experience on the Oireachtas Committee and work as a Senator put weight behind the issues she is setting her platform on.

Weaknesses

Questions about how her campaign has been financed by an ex-boyfriend businessman have overshadowed part of her presidential campaign. Ms Freeman was asked to address the fact Des Walsh, the president of Herbalife Nutrition, provided her with a €120,000 loan to fund her bid. His company has previously been accused of operating a pyramid scheme.

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Bookies odds

Her odds vary between 25/1 and 33/1 if you shop around.


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