IN THE RUNNING Seán Gallagher is on the ticket for October's Presidental election after receiving the backing of four county councils, including Mayo, on Monday.
Dragon backed by Mayo County Council despite not addressing meeting
Presidential hopeful Seán Gallagher received the endorsement of Mayo County Council in his run for the Áras, despite being accused of insulting the council by not addressing it.
The businessman and former Dragon’s Den star received the nomination at yesterday’s specially convened meeting of the Council, where he received the support of the Fianna Fáil members of the council and three independents.
Mayo County Council was one of a number of local authorities who were due to meet yesterday to discuss potential presidential candidates and to decide whether it will support the nomination of a candidate.
Seven nominees, including Mr Gallagher, requested a nomination from Mayo County Council and permission to address the Council. The meeting was due to start at 11am, but it became clear from early on that the majority of those seeking a nomination would not be attending. In the end, only only one candidate, Sarah Louise Mulligan, addressed the chamber.
A proposal by Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan to reconvene another meeting to allow presidential nominees the opportunity to attend was defeated, with some councillors claiming they showed no respect to the county by not showing up.
Despite this set-back and his absence, Cllr Ryan proposed the nomination of Mr Gallagher, saying the nominees couldn’t be in the same place at the one time, and was seconded by his colleague Cllr Al McDonnell. This prompted Cllr Christy Hyland to ask: “Is Seán Gallagher an Independent or Fianna Fáil candidate?” Some questioned whether Mr Gallagher could be nominated in his absence, but the vote was taken and with the support of nine Fianna Fáil councillors and three Independents – Michael Holmes, Richard Finn and Gerry Ginty – the proposal was passed by 12 votes to ten.
There were only three Fine Gael councillors in the chamber for the meeting: Neil Cruise, Henry Kenny and Jarlath Munnelly. All three voted against the proposal.
The seven nominees who requested the meeting were Marie Goretti Moylan, John Groarke, Gavin Duffy, Patrick Feeney, Senator Joan Freeman, Sarah Louise Mulligan and Seán Gallagher.
The absence of six of the seven angered a number of councillors, who said they had not been informed that the nominees would not be present, and accused them of insulting the councillors and having no respect for the county.
“The people who have decided to go to other counties instead of us here obviously rate these counties much higher than they rate us,” said Cllr Michael Kilcoyne.
“They have sent you a very clear message and if you have difficulty reading it let me explain. They were all invited and decided to go elsewhere. The vote from Mayo County Council is of equal weight as the vote from Waterford or Wexford or anywhere else. They made the decision to go there and they made the decision on the basis they felt meeting the councillors in those areas was more important. They voted with their feet,” he added.
His proposal not to reschedule another meeting was supported by Fine Gael councillor Jarlath Munnelly and by Westport-based Cllr Hyland, who asked why the nominees had not tried to reschedule the meeting.
“We were notified to be here today at eleven o’clock, and there are councillors here who could be out serving their areas and doing work. I’m too busy to have to come back here next Monday, wondering who’s coming and who isn’t.”
Cllr Al McDonnell said that it was not possible for the nominees to be in two places at the one time and claimed their absence was ‘not a slight on us’. “I think we are being offensive to these people by not inviting them for another time,” he said.
Cathoirleach, Cllr Blackie Gavin said he received a message from Mr Gallagher on Sunday evening at 6.30pm to say he would not be able to make the meeting. Mr Liam Hanrahan, the Meetings Administrator added that some other candidates had contacted the council to say they would not be present, and he confirmed they did not ask for a rescheduled meeting.
Marilyn Monroe impersonator
In her address to the councillors, Ms Mulligan, a 36-year-old UCD graduate, said she was running with the aim of highlighting the problems of child and domestic abuse, homelessness and being pro-life. The Dublin native, whose previous roles have included a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and burlesque dancer, is the CEO of the website IrishWhoLovePresidentTrump.com. She said she would use her closeness to President Trump to highlight the plight of the undocumented Irish in the US.
While the councillors thanked her for her ten-minute presentation, they held reservations regarding her support for Donald Trump. Cllr Gerry Ginty said he would have nominated her only for that.
Her nomination was proposed by Cllr Richard Finn who said she was the only one to address the council and deserved their support. He was seconded by Cllr Frank Durcan. The motion was defeated by 16 votes to three. Another nomination by Sinn Féin councillor Joe McHale that the Council not nominate a candidate was also defeated, 14 votes to eight.