Fermoy man looks for backing for President's role
INDEPENDENT Fermoy based presidential candidate Richard McSweeney has made an emotional appeal to Cork County Councillors to back his campaign for the Aras.
The 56-year-old father of two addressed councillors this week, part of an exhaustive tour of the country during which he is seeking the backing of local authorities for his presidential bid.
"I am aiming to be the First Citizen of Ireland and to be the custodian and guardian of our constitution. I wish to serve the Irish people. That is why I am here today," Mr McSweeney told a packed council chamber.
Born in Fermoy, Mr McSweeney spent four years as a seminarian with the Columban Fathers, before moving to Korea to complete his training.
After a further two years he decided that the priesthood was not for him and he returned to Ireland. He subsequently moved back to Korea and worked as a University lecturer and studied for a degree in Koran language and literature and an MA in Chinese Philosophy.
He and his wife returned to Ireland to educate his two children and to "give them the degree of Irishness that I have".
Unable to secure a job, he moved to Saudi Arabia where he spent three years teaching members of the Royal family, before taking up another teaching position in The Emirates.
A decade ago he moved back to the village of Tallow and since then has written seven books reflecting on the almost two decades he spent living abroad.
Addressing Cork county councillors, Mr McSweeney said he felt that there was a need to widen the choice and scope of candidates for the election.
"At this point we have a choice of two career politicians and two celebrities, one from the entrepreneurial sector and the other from the sports/charity sector. What was blatantly obvious to me and others of a more philosophical and artistic nature was that there needed to be an independent intellectual on the ticket," said Mr McSweeney.
He said that if elected President, he would focus his efforts on three key areas: tourism, hospitality and culture.
"It is not enough for people to come to kiss a stone on the side of a castle or go to Muckross to see a 140-year-old portrait. We can do better than this. Tourism is our gem and I intend to promote this to create new jobs," said Mr McSweeney.
"We are a hospitable people, but we can do a lot better. We are also known around the world as a very cultured people and have to build on that. These are things that as President I will address," he added.
Mr Mc Sweeney finished by saying that as a former seminarian he felt "very hurt" by the various scandals that have hit the Catholic Church in Ireland.
"As President I would seek ways to renew the trust that existed for more than 1,600 years. We as a people build up this faith, not Rome and I am not prepared to see it taken away from us," he said.