Meet the candidates for Ireland’s Presidency
2018-10-01 11:31:42 -

By Juliette Chantitch


The next Irish Presidential election will take place on Friday 26 October.

So far, six candidates – four independents and two backed by political parties – are running to become the Republic’s ceremonial head of state with a salary of about €325,000.

It should be noted, however, that the incumbent receives slightly less than €250,000 after voluntarily slashing his own salary by €75,000 for the last seven years.

So, who are the candidates?


President Michael D Higgins

President Higgins was elected under the Labour Party banner on 11 November 2011. As incumbent, he is entitled to nominate himself to run for presidency for a second time, however he enjoys the support of Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.


Liadh Ní Riada

Like the incumbent, Ní Riada is backed by a political party. The Sinn Féin candidate said of her ambitions: “I see a president that needs to be companionate, that needs to be caring, a fighter for those who are completely left over, representing all that is good in us as people.”


Seán Gallagher

The businessman who came second in the last presidential election was the first independent to secure nomination, supported by Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim and Wexford County Councils.

Between 1988 to 2000, Gallagher worked with various State bodies and departments. He later became a political advisor to Fianna Fáil TD and Minister of Health Rory O’Hanlon.

The investor in the first three seasons of RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den says his goal in this election is to “redefine the role of president in the context of a changing society, while cherishing all that is unique about Ireland.”


Gavin Duffy

Kildare native and entrepreneur Duffy is the main dragon on Dragon’s Den. Duffy previously worked as an advisor to both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. In 2017, he was the moderator of Fine Gael’s leadership election debates all over the country. He secured his nomination with the support of Meath, Carlow and Wicklow County Councils, as well as Waterford City and County Council.

Duffy has announced a programme of five pillars “which centre on establishing an international youth corps; expanding age friendly initiative; commitment to diversity and inclusion.”


Peter Casey

Another investor and one of the dragons from Dragon’s Den. The businessman, a native of Co Derry, graduated in business and politics from Aston University in England.

Before joining the presidential race, Casey previously considered running for the general election. He obtained 14 votes when he later ran to be elected to Seanad Éireann.

Casey wants to create an “Irish birthright movement” to reinforce the Irish community all over the world, using social media. Tipperary, Clare, Kerry County Councils and Limerick City and County Council nominated Casey.


Joan Freeman

The Dublin psychologist and serving senator founded Pieta House, a suicide intervention charity, in 2006 and served as its director for eight years. In June 2018, Freeman received the Trailblazer Award from the Women’s Executive Network in Ireland. She became an active politician following her nomination by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a member of Seanad Éireann.

Freeman received her first support to run as a candidate from Cork City Council, followed by Fingal County Council and Galway City and County Councils. She said her goal is “to lead a campaign for a positive, confident, caring and resilient Ireland”, adding that she also wants her campaign to focus on mental health and the elderly.


Another candidate, journalist Gemma O’Doherty, failed to secure nomination via the council route after only receiving support from Laois County Council.


How to run for presidency?

Any Irish citizen over the age of 35 can seek to run for the Irish presidency. He or she needs to be nominated by at least 20 members of the Oireachtas, or by at least four of the 31 local authorities of Ireland. If elected directly by the Irish people through secret ballot, the candidate will become the new Uachtaràn na hÉireann (President of Ireland) by publicly swearing his or her faith to Ireland and loyalty to the Constitution at a later date.


The role of the President

During a seven-year term, the President of Ireland will handle different roles and acquire various powers and functions as the Ireland’s new Head of State. He or she will be able to exercise the powers delivered by the Constitution, as appointing the Taoiseach, representing his people or act as Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces. But many of them will need the Government endorsement to be exercised.

The Uachtarán na hÉireann will also represents Ireland on the international stage by visiting foreign states or inviting foreign heads of state. Besides, he or she will choose the Irish ambassadors to represent the State all over the world.

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