By Conor Kane
Businessman and former Dragon's Den judge Gavin Duffy has said he is "relieved" to have secured the endorsement of a fourth local authority which allows him to take his place in next month's presidential election.
Mr Duffy, an independent candidate, was speaking after Waterford City and County Council voted to place him on the ballot paper, adding to the endorsements he had already received from councils in Carlow, Wicklow and Meath.
He joins Senator Joan Freeman, Sean Gallagher, President Higgins and a Sinn Féin candidate in the election while a number of councils have yet to vote on the matter and may yield more nominees.
Five hopefuls addressed the council in Dungarvan this morning, including Sean Gallagher who had already secured his nomination and asked members not to put him forward for another endorsement.
Four other candidates had spoken to the council when they met in July.
The only other candidate to be proposed and seconded in Waterford was journalist and campaigner Gemma O'Doherty, who was backed by independent councillors Sean Reinhardt and Joe Kelly.
Gavin Duffy won the endorsement by 14 votes to 2, with members from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour all supporting him.
Sinn Féin's Cllr John Hearne abstained and there were some absentees.
Immediately after the vote, Mr Duffy said: "One one level I am so relieved to have crossed the line in achieving the nomination. I am also very humbled to get that support, from right across the chamber."
He said that, now he has the required four council endorsements, he will not be asking any other council for support and will instead be asking the to back a different candidate.
Earlier, the members were addressed by another former "dragon," Peter Casey, as well as journalist Gemma O'Doherty, Sarah Louise Mulligan, and Newry-based businessman John O'Hare who only entered the race on Thursday.
Sean Gallagher also took the opportunity to tell the members he did not want them to nominate him as he already had the four endorsements he needed, and told them that, if elected president, "I will work with every fibre of my being for those on the margins: geographically, socially, economically, emotionally".
Gemma O'Doherty told the councillors she was seeking a nomination, "in the furtherance of my desire to serve the cause of truth, justice and integrity for, and on behalf of, the Irish people".
She said the country is suffering from a culture of "corruption and clientelism, which is having a deeply damaging effect on democracy and on the relationship between the politicians and citizens".
Ms O'Doherty highlighted issues including housing, healthcare, a free press, and corruption as ones that are important to her.
"It's quite clear that the previous incumbents and the current [president] have been members of the elite in Ireland, that have brought our country to its knees time and time again.
"I believe the previous incumbents, and the current, have not pushed the presidency to the limits that they can.
"Their job is to be on the side of citizens and highlighting the needs of our people."