Sunday 16 June 2019

Presidential hopeful Sharkey told to wait for bid approval

Kevin Sharkey with Wexford County Chairman Cllr Keith Doyle
Kevin Sharkey with Wexford County Chairman Cllr Keith Doyle

David Looby

Presidential candidate Kevin Sharkey will have to wait two months to see if Wexford councillors will support his bid for the presidency.

Sharkey addressed councillors, outlining his difficult start to life and how he has grown into a person able to take on the role of one of the highest position in the land.

Sharkey said: 'In 1961 I was born to an unmarried mother who was in a mother and baby home. I was given a home in Donegal. Ireland was a very different place then and I was the only black person in the county.'

Sharkey said far from being treated as different, he was welcomed with open arms by the Donegal community in which he grew up.

'I was given a unique perspective Irish people and ground them to be fair.'

He said he has made mistakes in his life and has learned from every one.

'I grew up in an Ireland where secrecy was the order of the day. I spoke out because I didn't want (what happened to me) to happen to another child.'

He relayed how he spoke out on the Late Late Show about his life experience of being a child born into a Mother and Baby Home, prompting a director to make the States of Fear programme.

'Over the years I spoke out on civil partnerships because I believed it was about human rights.'

Sharkey said many Irish people feel disconnected from the role of the President and from politics in general.

'It always seems to be an elite group of people (who are elected as President).'

Describing his train journey to Wexford as like being in a technicolour film, he said he would be a president who would stand up for Ireland.

Cllr Malcolm Byrne questioned Sharkey's decision to retweet a message by Tommy Robinson, a far right British politician and co-founder of the English Defence League, while Cllr Tom Forde questioned his record on supporting immigrants and refugees and his decision to wear an 'I am racist' t-shirt.

Cllr Paddy Kavanagh said: 'I admire your get up and go to come down here to look for a kickstart on your nomination. I wish you well and I do believe it should be a contest as if we don't have one the office becomes too blasé.'

Referring to the tweet, Dublin resident Sharkey said: 'I am not yet president and I am very aware of the president's role,' adding that he only supported Robinson in his capacity as a father defending his children.

'I feel we live in a very politically correct country where you are shut down for being extreme,' adding that he hopes Ireland finally has a citizen's president.

On the t-shirt, Sharkey said he was highlighting how everyone has their own prejudices, but it is only when they are acted upon by excluding people due to their race that it becomes racism, explaining that he was highlighting the issue as a black man.

Chairman Cllr Keith Doyle said councillors will defer their vote on whether to support his nomination for president until September as more candidates may seek an audience.

Gorey Guardian