Higgins Sworn In As Ninth President Of Ireland

Michael D. Higgins has become the 9th president of Ireland after winning over 1,007,104 votes out of the total 1,771,762 votes cast in the country where the voter turnout was over 55%.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny congratulated and praised Labour candidate Higgins as the best choice for president and “personality” over the next seven years.

The winner of international peace prizes and a champion of peace abroad, Higgins was also responsible for the rise of Ireland’s modern film industry. He also established TG4, set up numerous centres of culture and supported sports and theatres around the country.

Higgins will be inaugurated into his office on the 11th of November and will only serve one term in office, a revelation he made earlier in his campaign.

The six defeated candidates have heaped praise on the 70 year old. His nearest challenger Sean Gallagher said the campaign had been very challenging at times. But he said Michael D Higgins had run his campaign with dignity and decorum. He said Higgins will be an outstanding President.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said it was a honour to stand and described it as the “experience of a lifetime”. He was very proud that 250,000 people voted for him.

He said Mr Higgins has “great intellectual capacity” and a “huge heart” and would make a very fine President. He urged the new President to continue the work of the President and Martin McAleese in building bridges in the North.

David Norris said Mr Higgins would be a great President. He described him as a poet, visionary, academic and scholar who was passionately committed to justice and human rights.

Mr Norris said the President-elect was the only “political millionaire” in the country because he had got over a million votes.

Dana Rosemary Scallon said it had been a great honour to be part of the election campaign and was pleased to be standing at the end of it. She wished Mr Higgins well in his work over the next seven years for the good of the country.

All of the defeated candidates thanked their families and supporters for their efforts, and recorded their appreciation for the work of the Presidential Returning Officer, Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile.

A spokesperson for Mary Davis said that she congratulated Michael D Higgins yesterday and spent today with her family. Gay Mitchell has also thanked Higgins privately.

Higgins On The Brink Of Success

The Presidential election count resumes this morning at 9am, with Michael D Higgins looking certain to be elected President.

The result of the second count was announced in Dublin Castle just after 1.30am.

The first count took 12 hours; the second took four-and-a-half.

It will take some time yet before Mr Higgins is finally elected Ireland’s ninth President.

He took a commanding lead on the first count, with 39.6% of the vote.

After the second count, which saw the distribution of the votes of the two lowest candidates (Mary Davis and Dana Rosemary Scallon), he is on just over 730,000 votes, still 155,000 votes short of the quota.

Count centres around the country will distribute Senator David Norris’ 116,000 votes this morning.

However, that will not be enough to elect Labour candidate Higgins, so at least one more count will be required, with the distribution of Gay Mitchell’s votes and possibly those of Sinn Fèin`s Martin McGuinness as well.

Higgins closest rival Sean Gallagher admitted defeat yesterday evening, congratulating the Galway native in the process.

Once Higgins election is confirmed, the count in the two Constitutional referendums will begin.

 

Who Did You Vote For And Why?

 

 

We want to know who you voted for and why?

World Media Offer Their Take On The Presidential Election

The world media have been casting their eye over the seven candidates running in today’s presidential election and have scrutinised their every move. Much of the reports coming from abroad focus primarily on the tussle between Michael D Higgins and Sean Gallagher, while others reflect upon Martin McGuinness` past affiliations with the IRA.

Reuters reports the election as a three way contest pitting a “former guerrilla commander” against a television star and politician-turned-poet (Michael D. Higgins).

The news agency claims that McGuinness’s candidacy shook up the “dull race” but adds that although he is unlikely to win,  running gave a “fillip to his party…and its campaign for a united Ireland”.

Al Jazeera also leads with Derry native McGuinness – with a headline reading “IRA commander eyes presidency”. The Middle East news agency says that he is still suffering due to the constant scrutiny from a “hostile media” and a public unwilling to forgive.

The Washington Post describes the Sinn Féin candidate as a “former Irish Republican Army warlord”. It also depicts David Norris as Ireland’s “top gay-rights crusader”.

Seán Gallagher is called a “bagman – a collector of undisclosed and potentially corrupt donations – for Fianna Fáil” in the same article.

However, the New York Times takes a different angle on the story, stating that the Sinn Féin candidate’s estimated 15 per cent support is a sign of the “winds of reconciliation” blowing across the island.

In England, The Independent writes that the result of the election could hinge on one word – “envelope”. It says that Gallagher has experienced a “meteoric plunge” in the past few days since Mondays Frontline debate broke his stronghold and blew the race for the presidency wide open.

There has been much coverage of the elections abroad in an attempt to keep the Irish diaspora informed however a stronger reason for such a level of coverage largely relates to the controversies and scandals that have dogged the campaign throughout.

Polling Station Opens As Identity Of Next President Looms

Voting in the Presidential Election began at 7am this morning and will continue until 10pm.

Two referenda, on judicial pay and Oireachtas investigations, are also being voted on, as is the Dublin West by-election following the death of former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan earlier this year.

Just over 3.1 Million people are entitled to vote in the two elections and the two referenda.

The electorate will be asked to choose their top three candidates for the presidency in order of their preference while the referendum are based on a yes or no answer. Voters in Dublin West will also use the single transferable vote system. 

That is every Irish citizen over the age of 18 who is included on the Register of Electors or the Supplementary Register.

Most people should have received a polling card by now, but even if you have not you are still entitled to vote as long as you are registered.

However, you may be asked for identification at your local polling station.

Acceptable forms of identification include a passport, driving licence, an employee or student identity card with a photograph, or a bank or credit union book showing an address in the constituency.

You can also use a cheque book or card, a credit card, or a birth or marriage certificate, if you also have another document showing you live in the constituency.

McGuinness Criticised By Families of IRA Victims

A daughter of murdered Jean McConville has criticised the participation of Sinn Fèin’s Martin McGuinness in the Presidential election.

McConville was the mother of ten who was abducted by the IRA in Belfast in 1972 and shot dead. Her body was found 31 years later in 2003 by a passer-by on a Co Louth beach.

Speaking at her home in Co Down, Helen McKendry said: “I don’t think Martin McGuinness should be standing. He should be telling the truth to victims’ families, the whole truth.”

Her husband, Seamus McKendry, also criticised the Derry native: “I think the office of President has too much prestige for any Sinn Féiner to be contesting it.”

The McKendrys demonstrated against Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams when he ran as a Dáil candidate in Co Louth during the last general election.

Elsewhere, the family of Tom Oliver who was kidnapped and killed by the IRA in July 1991 has attacked McGuinness over his failure to say that Mr Oliver was murdered.

 McGuinness said he would not disagree with the families of Oliver or McConville when they described the deaths as murder, despite failing to admit that were actually murdered.

Oliver was a farmer who was kidnapped and killed by the IRA, who believed he was a Garda informer, a claim staunchly denied by his family.

Yesterday evening the son of Mr Oliver, Eugene Oliver, issued a statement via Independent candidate Sean Gallagher`s campaign team on behalf of the family.

In it Eugene Oliver said he was really upset when he heard Mr McGuinness warn another candidate (Gallagher) on The Frontline to tell the truth.

“What shallow hypocrisy from a man who has dined out on weasel words for most of his career,” the statement said.

Mr Oliver said he wanted Mr McGuinness to “stop hiding behind weasel words” and admit that his father and Mrs McConville were murdered by the IRA, which McGuinness was a leading member of.

The statement went on to say that everyone saw the “empty words” of Mr McGuinness on The Frontline programme when he refused to describe their deaths as murder.

“Even at this late stage, with just days to go to polling, he could not find it in his heart to admit my father, along with other innocent people, were murdered,” Mr Oliver said.

“He was gunned down in cold blood and even twenty years after, at this remove my family are entitled to finally and unequivocally hear the words ‘murder’ uttered from his lips,” the statement adds.

 

Gallagher Launches Stinging Attack on Sinn Fèin Smear Campaign

Independent Presidential candidate Seán Gallagher has accused Sinn Féin of organising and orchestrating a smear campaign designed to take him out of the Presidential campaign.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Dragons Den star  Gallagher said Sinn Féin had put together a “dirty tricks” campaign to reduce his standing amongst the electorate.

He told radio host Pat Kenny, who also chaired last night`s debate,  that the dirty tricks campaign from Sinn Féin followed his call last week for people who have information on the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe to make it known to authorities.

He said when he topped the polls last week he was made aware that Sinn Féin, in particular in border areas, would put him under what he called “amazing attacks”.

Gallagher said last night’s Frontline debate had been an “ambush” and a “hatchet job” organised by Sinn Féin, adding it was “an approach they are well used to”.

Commenting on the accusation that he received a cheque on behalf of Fianna Fáil from a donor in Co Louth, Mr Gallagher said he had told the absolute truth about the issue and did not remember what happened.

The Cavan native said he stood over everything he had done in business as being impeccable and with complete honesty.

He said he would remain focused on his ambition to restore a bright economic future for the country and would not be falling fowl of any further political assassination attempts being orchestarted by Sinn Féin.

Martin McGuinness has since revealed that he will not be exposing the identity of the man who called him to make the revelations about Gallagher’s dealings.

Meanwhile, in a further blow to his campaign,  a number of GAA clubs n Louth have come forward to state that they paid Gallagher €5000 to act as a consultant in order to get them grants.

 

McGuinness Has No Knowledge of Callers Identity

 

Martin McGuinness said he does not know anything about the man who telephoned him before the debate claiming that he gave Mr Gallagher a cheque for €5,000 at a Fianna Fáil event in a Dundalk hotel in 2008 or 2009.

The Sinn Fèin candidate said he does not know whether ”the envelope was white or brown, but it is the brown envelope culture that destroyed the Irish people’s economy”.

He said what we saw on the programme from Mr Gallagher was ”a very clear admission” that what he had said was true. The Cavan native originally denied the claims but was forced to come clean after it was revealed via McGuinness` Twitter that Sinn Fèin would identify the man involved.

Mr McGuinness said the man who made the phone call has not indicated to him whether or not he would make a public statement on the matter. Gallagher had stated that the man involved was a fuel smuggler who has in very strong links to Sinn Fèin leader Gerry Adams.

Asked whether the revelations during the debate had damaged him, Mr Gallagher said that since he became a frontrunner in this campaign, he well expected, like everyone else, that there would be ”lots of these types of attacks”. He did not take any further questions.

Gallagher`s credibility has become tarnished after these revelations and the race to become president has been blown wide open once again.

Gallagher Embroiled In New Controversy

 

The final TV debate of the Presidential election campaign took place on RTÉ’s The Frontline last night as all candidates made a final push for votes ahead of Thursday’s poll.

The debate was marked by attacks on Independent candidate Sean Gallagher, with Martin McGuinness claiming he had been involved in collecting a sizeable cheque for Fianna Fáil.

Mr Gallagher was under pressure on a number of occasions last night.

He struggled to explain the circumstances of an irregular company loan, which he says was lodged to the wrong account.

But Mr McGuinness landed a severe blow to the Cavan native`s campaign when he claimed the Independent candidate had collected a €5,000 cheque destined for Fianna Fáil from an individual in Dundalk, Co Louth, two years ago.

Mr Gallagher initially said he had no recollection but then claimed the man in question was a fuel smuggler with links to Sinn Fèin leader Gerry Adams, before conceding there may have been an envelope handed over.

Gilmore Labels Higgins As Best Candidate

Labour Party leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has reiterated his stance that his party colleague Michael D Higgins Is the best candidate for the presidency.

Mr Gilmore also stated that the gap shown in the opinion polls between Higgins and Sean Gallagher could be bridged between now and Thursday.

“If people switch their vote the gap can be bridged between now and Thursday. Michael D Higgins has the political experience to do the constitutional role – remember that the last two presidents were constitutional lawyers.

“Nobody in this election has the track record of Michael D Higgins in relation to inclusion and working for people who have been at a disadvantage. He is a president we can be proud of,” he said.

He denied Mr Higgins had been making a point about Mr Gallagher’s business dealings yesterday when he said he respected entrepreneurship “as long as it was ethical.”

“No the point being made was if you look at what’s happened to the Irish economy over the last few years and you look at the collapse that has happened, the one thing that was missing from entrepreneurship and some sections of the Irish economy during the Celtic tiger years was a lack of ethics.

“Michael D Higgins was one of the few people who questioned what was happening during those years. He has conducted a positive campaign from the very beginning and was just reminding people of his track record,” said Gilmore.