Presidential hopeful vows to offer more than TV character in Áras bid
Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy has admitted he has “baggage” heading into the campaign – but says he will be a very different character from Donald Trump.
The ‘Dragons’ Den’ investor has been compared to the US president because of their similar backgrounds as businessmen who went into reality television.
However, Mr Duffy told the Irish Independent he hopes to display another side as he travels the country seeking a nomination to contest the election for Áras an Uachtárain.
“It’s not something you can get away from in three months. It comes with baggage,” he said when asked about his reputation as a reality TV personality.
“People will think ‘Oh, is he a Trump-style candidate’. My whole conduct as President would be very different from Donald Trump.
“As people get to know the other side beyond the TV person,” he said.
The Louth businessman wrote to 900 councillors around the country yesterday and will make his first pitch for a local authority nomination in Waterford today. “If I get a nomination when I’m campaigning, hopefully people will know I have other things to offer than just the television personality or the businessman.
“Seán Gallagher did well in 2011 on the business platform. But it’s certainly not the only plank I’ll be working off,” Mr Duffy said.
He will have a 30-minute slot to convince county and city representatives in Waterford today to sign his nomination papers.
However, he will be up against Senator Joan Freeman who is expected to ultimately win the council’s backing when they vote in September.
She is likely to discuss her work with Pieta House but could also move into social issues where she is understood to share a common ground with many of the conservative members in Waterford.
It is understood Mr Duffy will evoke the presidencies of Seán T Ó Ceallaigh, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese during his contribution.
He will not make any attempt to criticise the work of Michael D Higgins over the past seven years – but will promise to offer a more modern style of leadership.
In particular he will cite the role of Ó Ceallaigh, Ireland’s second President, who served in the years after World War II.
Mr Duffy will draw on the themes used by the country’s two women presidents in an effort to show how different personalities in the office achieved different outcomes.
Another presidential hopeful, artist Kevin Sharkey, said that he wants to be elected as a representative of Irish culture.
Appearing on TV3, he said Ireland has “drifted towards Europe”, citing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a member of ‘Team Europe’.
“We have a lot of people talking about Europe as the future. But I’ve seen what Europe has done to small towns in Ireland,” he said.
“The roads came first and then came the big German multinational shops.
“The effect that had on rural Ireland has been catastrophic.”
Mr Sharkey said the presidency needs to be taken away from the establishment who have controlled the office since it was first conceived.
Meanwhile, Minister of State at the Department of Justice David Stanton has said the Government is working to bring in legislation that will clamp down on gambling advertising, a move encouraged by Mr Higgins.
The President appeared to step into the political realm on Sunday by calling for gambling adverts to be removed from sporting events.
In response, Mr Stanton said legislation which has been worked on since 2013 is proving difficult to get over the line.
“It’s an extremely complicated area.
“The more you actually tug at it, the more you find how complicated it is.
“It’s also a very, very serious area. It’s something we’re determined to tackle as a government,” he said.