TV star set to re-mortgage family home
Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy has plans to take out a loan of up to €750,000 to fund his potential election campaign.
The ‘Dragons’ Den’ star and businessman revealed he had secured approval for the mortgage on his family home but said he had not yet drawn it down.
Mr Duffy is seeking the support of councillors to get on the ballot paper to challenge President Michael D Higgins in the upcoming election.
He needs the backing of four local authorities to get a nomination and made pitches to Meath, Kildare and Westmeath county councils yesterday.
Speaking to councillors in Meath, Mr Duffy highlighted his commitment to contesting the presidency. He said taking out a mortgage on his family home showed he had the conviction to put himself forward.
He said he runs the risk of being accused of having “big business” backing him if he doesn’t fund the campaign himself and said he’s “blessed” to have a wife, Orlaith Carmody, who “didn’t question… us taking out a mortgage on our family home”.
Later Mr Duffy told the Irish Independent that he had received a letter of offer from a lender for €750,000, though he confirmed he had yet to draw down the loan.
He reiterated his commitment to an open and transparent campaign and said he intends to publish a “full disclosure document” detailing his borrowings and tax compliance if he gets the required support to get on the ballot paper.
Earlier, Mr Duffy told councillors that the Irish people won’t be electing a Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump in October. He emphasised the “soft power” of the Irish presidency.
Councillors in Meath also heard from mental health campaigner Senator Joan Freeman, who insisted that, despite being an Oireachtas member, she is not a politician.
The Pieta House founder said that as president she would be a “voice for the people of Ireland”.
A practising Catholic, she also spoke of the visit of Pope Francis and said she was heartened by the “warm, dignified and respectful” welcome he was given by the Irish people.
Ms Freeman said: “I think this is the last chance that the Irish people will give the Catholic Church.
“We have to stop being drip-fed these scandals,” she added, saying there needed to be “complete and open disclosure” and once there’s transparency a new relationship can be developed between Church and State.
Another presidential hopeful, journalist Gemma O’Doherty, denied claims she is anti-vaccination and said her views on this and other matters had been “completely taken out of context”.
She said that corruption, and not vaccines, “keeps me awake at night”.
Four potential candidates – Mr Duffy, Ms Freeman, musician Jimmy Smyth and artist Kevin Sharkey – also presented their case for nomination to Kildare County Council.
Mr Sharkey told the meeting he suffered abuse in his childhood but had triumphed over its consequences, being neither “victim” nor “survivor”.
Councillors in Westmeath also heard from candidates.