FF councillors favour Seán Gallagher for president
Anton McNulty and Deirdre Gavin
Presidential-race frontrunner Seán Gallagher looks set to receive the support of the majority of Fianna Fáil councillors in Mayo.
Four out of the ten Fianna Fáil councillors contacted by The Mayo News yesterday stated they were voting for the independent candidate in Thursday’s election, while another four revealed they were torn between Gallagher and Mayo woman Mary Davis. Two Fianna Fáil councillors said they would be voting for Davis.
Gallagher was a one-time member of Fianna Fáil, which did not put forward a candidate. However, The Mayo News findings reveal that Gallagher will still capitalise on the Fianna Fáil vote in the county.
“Seán Gallagher is the most capable candidate in the race for President and the polls represent that,” Ballinrobe-based Cllr Damien Ryan told The Mayo News last night. “He is different to past presidents and he is what is needed in this country at present. I will be voting for him, I make no secret about that, and there was never anybody else in the field for me.”
Cllr Al McDonnell stated that for ‘parochial’ reasons he might vote for Davis, but says that Gallagher has struck him as an ‘inspirational and outstanding young man’.
“I find Seán Gallagher to be a goer and I like his attitude. I think he can maybe best represent us abroad on trade missions and so on, and we must realise that the status and regard overseas for the office of President of Ireland is much higher than what it is at home,” he said.
Ties that bind
Gallagher’s Fianna Fáil background and the role he has played in the party as a member of the National Executive has been heavily scrutinised in the media ever since polls showed him to be one of the main candidates.
Despite articles linking him to fundraising dinners for Fianna Fáil, where diners were given access to former taoiseach Brian Cowen and asked to donate up to €5,000 – and despite the party’s unpopularity in the country – the latest opinion polls show Gallagher is on course to become the ninth Irish president.
The former Dragon’s Den television star is no stranger to the Fianna Fáil party in Mayo, having officially launched Dara Calleary’s General Election campaign.
Deputy Calleary refused to reveal who he will backing on Thursday, but stated that he has known Gallagher for the past decade and knows he gives 100 per cent to everything he does.
“I have been a friend of Seán’s for the last ten years when I worked for the Chambers and he was with the enterprise board in Louth. That was long before we were involved in active politics and our friendship goes back that far.”
One of their own
Deputy Calleary explained that the Fianna Fáil party in the county was split in their support for Gallagher and Davis. County Councillors Blackie Gavin and Jimmy Maloney were among those split between Gallagher and Davis, but both believe many Fianna Fáilers see Gallagher as one of their own.
“It [Gallagher victory] will be a great boost for Fianna Fáil because he was a former Fianna Fáil member. He will get a big vote from the Fianna Fáil party and I have to say a lot of Fianna Fáil people see him as their man,” said Cllr Maloney.
While Deputy Calleary downplayed how a victory for Gallagher would be a major boost to Fianna Fáil’s rebuilding process, it would prove that the Fianna Fáil is not a toxic brand.
“It does show that it is not a sin to be in Fianna Fáil because you would swear it was a mortal sin to be in the party. The party has done a hell of a lot for the country over the past 80 years but we know there is still a lot of work to do to rebuild the party,” he said.
While Cllr Johnnie O’Malley downplayed the boost a Gallagher win would have for Fianna Fáil, Westport councillor Margaret Adams said a Gallagher victory would be ‘psychologically’ a ‘bit of a comeback’.
Additional reporting by Neill O’Neill and Edwin McGreal