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Sean Gallagher calls for changes to Amhran na bhFiann

INDEPENDENT presidential candidate Sean Gallagher has drawn attacks from rivals by suggesting the national anthem should be "less militaristic".

The frontrunner stood by his calls to "revise" the anthem today, telling the Herald it needs to be "modernised".

Mr Gallagher indicated that he would be in favour of "revising" Amhran na bhFiann -- much to the dismay of opponents Martin McGuinness and David Norris.

"I think to make it less militaristic, to make it more about celebrating all our strengths. about playing on the world stage. I think it needs to be modernised, I think it was written at a time that was different to where we are now, and I would certainly like it see it, that it could be sung north or south," said the Cavan man.

The call -- which was made during the TG4 presidential debate -- came under fire by several of Mr Gallagher's presidential rivals.

David Norris made jibes at Mr Gallagher's Fianna Fail connections -- claiming that the opening line, "Sinne Fianna Fail", could be said to give "an unfair advantage to one political party".

And former IRA chief Martin McGuinness accused Mr Gallagher of turning his back on "Irish freedom".

"I am sorry to hear Sean Gallagher is a revisionist. I would not like to see a change to it. It tells a story of the struggle for Irish freedom. The national anthem is about what we are and where we come from."

However, Mr Gallagher has today defended the comments.

A spokesperson told the Herald: "This comes in the context of the Rugby World Cup. It has been raised with Sean that the national anthem was not played in New Zealand.

"Sean is very proud of Amhran na bhFiann. All he said is that it is something that should be explored and revised when the constitution is looked at. Sean simply feels that it comes from a different age and includes language that is outdated."

The intense pressure on Mr Gallagher comes as it also emerged that several of his investments on RTE's The Dragon's Den have fallen through.

Despite pledging to spend more than €220,000 over the course of three series, he invested a sum closer to €100,000.

Dave Roberts, of gardening equipment company Grow Rings, admitted he "regrets" the deal struck with Mr Gallagher.