Gallagher Controversy May Prove A Blessing For Higgins

Controversy surrounding Seán Gallagher following Monday night’s presidential debate, which was aired on RTÉ and chaired by Pat Kenny, may work out extraordinarily well for Michael D. Higgins.

Higgins who, despite being Gallagher’s only real rival in the presidential campaign, has been lagging well behind him in recent days. However following revelations which were brought to light by Sinn Féin candidate Martin McGuinness concerning all of: “independent” candidate Seán Gallagher, a cheque for €5,000, a brown envelope and a Fianna Fáil event, Higgins could soon regain his position as forerunner in the 2011 presidential election.

Following McGuinness’s remarks, Gallagher conceded that the allegation could possibly hold some weight, before unconvincingly claiming that he could not remember with certainty one way or the other, and then finally confirming that there may be some truth in the statement made by the Sinn Féin candidate. Michael D. Higgins, who managed to escape the Frontline interrogation unscathed, was reported by a poll carried out on The Journal.ie, to have emerged from the presidential debate in the best condition with 39% of the public admitting that he came across better than the other participants.

Whether Higgins takes pleasure in doing a character assassination on Gallagher, or if he sees it as his moral obligation to the nation (etc., etc., etc.), he has nevertheless brandished his opponent as being a candidate who “lacks substance”, and implied that Gallagher is somewhat dodgy (in relation to business ownership and tax returns at least), over the last week. Higgins’ proved the depth of his underhandedness when he refused to get involved in the supposed Gallagher scandal on Monday night, and then yesterday urged the public to seek answers in relation to the allegations when he said on ‘Midlands 103’ Radio yesterday that: “these remarks are very serious questions to which the public’s entitled to an answer and the answer should come quickly and it should be regarded as a matter of urgency”.

Whatever else, nobody can fault Michael D. Higgins on his ability to optimize on controversial rumours about his main competitor. It remains to be seen however whether or not Monday night’s presidential debate will infringe upon Gallagher’s ability to maintain his electoral following throughout Ireland and proceed to be the next President of Ireland. Whatever happens, it is clear that Higgins is far more cunning than anyone would have thought.

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.

 

Higgins Tops Frontline Debate Poll

According to a poll on The Journal.ie, Michael D Higgins fared best in last night’s pivotal Frontline debate on RTÉ, receiving 38% of the vote.

Results:
Michael D Higgins: 38%
David Norris: 21%
Martin McGuinness: 19%
Don’t Know: 8%
Seán Gallagher: 6%
Gay Mitchell: 2%
Mary Davis: 2%
Dana Rosemary Scallon: 1%

Do you agree with these findings?

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.

Norris in Financial Trouble Following Contentious Campaign

Independent presidential candidate David Norris has admitted to being “in the red” as a result of his campaign.

The Seanad Éireann member said, “I’m out of money and I’m in the red but I’ve always been putting my money where my mouth is, I’ve consistently done this. If I think something needs to be done I will back it up with what ever meagre resources I have.”

However, he added that he did not wish to complain about his circumstances. He stated, “If I lose all my savings, I’ll be in exactly in same position as more than half country. I’m not gong to bellyache about it. People are losing their houses. I’m not going to lose my house. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve found myself in a prudent position.”

Despite the costly financial impact the campaign has left, Senator Norris insists he doesn’t regret re-entering the race for the Áras in September.

Norris pulled out of the campaign the previous month as a result of controversy surrounding clemency letters he wrote for his former partner Ezra Nawi in 1997.

Once the frontrunner, the latest Ipsos MRBI opinion poll indicated the Senator currently holds a support rating of just 8%. However, in tonight’s Frontline debate he noted that polls don’t always get it right. He also claimed that bookmakers once offered 10,000/1 on him getting a nomination in the first place.

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.

 

Candidates Target Gallagher At Newstalk Debate

The focus of today’s Newstalk/Google debate took on a similar theme with numerous candidates opting to have a dig at independent candidate Sèan Gallagher’s Fianna Fàil links.

Martin McGuinness argued his belief that Gallagher is still involved with the party who he said had brought the country to its knees.

“I do think that there is no doubt whatsoever that Seán has been up to his neck in Fianna Fáil,” said the Sinn Fèin candidate.

“It is not a crime for Seán to be involved with Fianna Fáil. But Fianna Fáil is the party that ran the economy into the ground. Fianna Fáil was the party that was involved in the brown envelope culture the Galway tent and involved in betraying the people of Ireland.”

Mr McGuinness also said voters must decide whether they want a representative of an establishment party elected to the Áras. 

“People can decide to continue with the same old, same old, or they can vote for someone who represents a break from the past and someone who looks to new beginnings and who wants to stand by the ordinary people of Ireland at this very difficult time.”

Labour candidate Michael D Higgins also attacked Mr Gallagher’s connection with Fianna Fáil today, saying it was up to the public to look at different backgrounds and manifestos and warned that he believed about a fifth of voters remain undecided.

“I’ve no doubt at all in my mind that all the candidates are people who love Ireland in their own way. The issue is about who has a track record of turning vision into practical reality,” the Labour candidate said.

“Every single thing I did, from being a councillor right to a TD to a minister, was turned into a reality. That’s why I have such a solid core of voters.” Mr Higgins said transfers from every source will be hugely important and he will secure them from all quarters.

Higgins latest outburst on Gallagher`s past links have become a reoccurring theme since polls put the independent candidate ahead of the chasing pack.

 

Last-ditch Attempt to Sway Floating Voters

The seven presidential candidates will take place in a make or break debate tonight with Pat Kenny set to grill them on RTÉ’s flagship current affairs show ‘The Frontline’.

Kenny himself admitted that he is one of the thousands of floating voters still undecided as to who they will support on Thursday but said “Getting up close and personal in the TV debate will put me in an ideal position to have my mind made up by the candidates.”

Kenny feels that tonight’s debate will be the final chance for any of the other candidates to seize the presidency from Seán Gallagher or Labour’s Michael D Higgins. He added, “I don’t want brawling on the floor but I do want them to engage with each other. If candidates who are down the field don’t engage in that manner, well, they simply don’t deserve to be president.”

Frontrunner Gallagher’s links with the Fianna Fáil party appear to have not affected his swelling popularity three days before the national vote. Despite being an Independent candidate, he has deep with link the party – some of which were highlighted in a letter he sent to the heads of Fianna Fail branches in Louth in January 2009 when he was seeking their support to get back on to the party’s national executive. In the letter he documented his 30 year commitment to the party and emphasised the two years he worked with former party leader Charlie Haughey from 1985-1987 when he was the leader of Ógra Fianna Fáil.

In a late attempt to curb the seemingly unstoppable surge in support for Gallagher, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar publicly announced he would be giving his second preference vote to Higgins, behind Fine Gael’s nominee Gay Mitchell. He called for members of his party to follow suit.

For the many undecided voters, the 90-minute Frontline debate will air on RTE1 at 9.40pm tonight.

Islanders Prepare To Vote As Final Debate Looms

Voters on the islands off the coast of Donegal will vote today in the Presidential election and the two referendums on Oireachtas inquiries and judges’ pay.

Traditionally the islanders vote ahead of the rest of the electorate to ensure that bad weather does not hinder the return of ballot boxes on time to be counted with the rest of the votes cast in the Donegal South West constituency.

Islanders on five Donegal islands will go to the polls – Arranmore, Tory, Gola, Inisfree and Inisboffin as the Presidential candidates prepare for the final debate to be staged this evening on The Frontline on RTE. It will be a last chance saloon for some of the candidates who have slumped in the polls recently to restore some credibility.

A total of 937 people are entitled to vote and the largest electorate of almost 700 are registered on the biggest island, Arranmore. The smallest electorate is on Inishfree where there are just eight voters registered.

Polling stations will be open from 11am to 3pm on each of the islands except Arranmore, where two polling stations will be open from 10.30am until 7.30pm, to accommodate people who work on the mainland.

Frontline airs this evening at 9.40 on RTE 1.