Independent Presidential Candidate Seán Gallagher with his wife Trish on the campaign trail in 2011. Photo: Tony Kinlan

Gallagher to decide on Áras bid

Cavanman Sean Gallagher will decide this week whether or not to make a second bid for the Áras. Responding to ongoing speculation in the national media about his candidacy, the Ballyhaise native confirmed to The Anglo-Celt that he is “actively considering contesting the 2018 Presidential Election”.

Meanwhile, a source close to Mr Gallagher’s 2011 campaign, who did not wish to be named, told the Celt: “He, at this moment in time, is speaking with family, friends, supporters, discussing it and weighing up all the various options in relation to the suggestion to contest the 2018 Presidential Election.
“He has been hugely encouraged by the large number of people in Cavan who have contacted him in relation to encouraging him to put his name forward for the 2018 election and it’s gratifying to have such messages from his home county.”
As the presidential campaign entered its final week in 2011, Mr Gallagher had a commanding lead in the polls - at 43% versus his nearest rival Michael D. Higgins of Labour on 26%. However, during his appearance on RTE’s live TV debate, presenter Pat Kenny read out a false ‘tweet’ apparently from a Sinn Fein account, which wrongly claimed that a man had given Gallagher money for a Fianna Fáil fundraiser. It was a fake account but the damage proved irrecoverable before polling day; though RTE later apologised and “significant” damages were paid to Mr Gallagher.
Last time out, despite ‘Tweetgate’, Sean Gallagher secured 26,150 first preference votes in the constituency of Cavan and Monaghan and, up to the point that Michael D. Higgins was deemed elected, he had received a large volume of transfers bringing his total vote in the constituency up to 32,420. The final result showed that Higgins secured 1,007,104 votes (56.8%) with Gallagher his nearest rival on 628,114 (35.5%).
In order to secure a nomination for the 2018 race, a potential candidate must secure the support of 20 TDs or senators, or four local authorities. It’s thought that should Mr Gallagher decide to throw his hat in the ring, it will once again be as an Independent candidate. 
Among those seeking nominations as independents are fellow Dragon Gavin Duffy, investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty, Senator Joan Freeman, artist Kevin Sharkey and retired Aer Lingus employee Patrick Feeney.
Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour have all decided to support current President Michael D Higgins’ bid for a second term; while Sinn Féin are set to announce their candidate at a two-day conference in Cavan early next month.