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Sunday 21 January 2018

Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher distances himself from Fianna Fail

Lyndsey Telford

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Sean Gallagher has distanced himself from Fianna Fail less than 24 hours after refusing to blame the party for mishandling the economy.

Mr Gallagher, a former member of the party's influential national executive, criticised the party for the first time and branded some decisions taken as appalling.

The Louth businessman, standing as an Independent and second favourite to win, said he abhorred some of Fianna Fail's policies in power.

"The last government badly mismanaged the economy. It overheated. We are now left with the issues of businesses struggling and unemployment," he said.

"I think that there were appalling decisions made."

Mr Gallagher insisted he did not lash out at the party during last night's live debate for fear of attacking the grass roots.

He also claimed he was cut short in the middle of the debate.

In an interview on Cork 96fm he said ordinary members, like him, were not in Cabinet and not responsible for poor decision-making.

He went on: "I did try to get the opportunity, but didn't get back in to say that of course I abhor many of the decisions of the last Government and the mismanagement of our economy that has taken us to where we are, and the last government were responsible.

"I do not feel like I need to be answerable, neither do any of the grassroots members need to be answerable for what was happening at Cabinet."

Meanwhile, Dana Scanlon, who launched a broadside at the media at the end of the RTE presidential debate, did not go out on the campaign trail.

The eurosceptic and former MEP had held back tears as she accused some sections of the press of vile and malicious attacks on her family just days after threatening to pull out of the race if they were embroiled in reporting of her campaign.

Dana is unhappy that a court case following a rift with her sister Susan Stein over ownership of song royalties has been publicised.

The Derry native was comforted by Senator David Norris and other presidential candidates at an emotional end to last night's debate.

The Senator said he felt sorry for her although he does not know what allegations Dana is referring to.

Mr Norris was speaking at the Famine Memorial in Dublin's financial quarter, the IFSC, where he called for recent immigrants to be given the right to vote.

He said 120,000 people had left the country in the last three years, equivalent to the population of Cork.

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