Presidential hopeful says Trump's America First policy should be mirrored with an 'Ireland First' approach

Presidential hopeful says Trump's America First policy should be mirrored with an 'Ireland First' approach

Update 6.30pm:

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent in Carlow

Potential presidential candidate Kevin Sharkey has controversially claimed the world needs to "get over" the fact Donald Trump is US president as his "America First" policy needs to be introduced in Ireland.

Mr Sharkey made the comments as he compared Mr Trump to wild west film star John Wayne and said he should be applauded for "giving up that beautiful wife and golf" to take on the White House role.

Presidential hopeful says Trump's America First policy should be mirrored with an 'Ireland First' approach

Speaking at a special presidential nomination meeting of Carlow county council which also heard Independent senator Joan Freeman insist Pope Francis must meet clerical abuse victims when he visits Ireland, Mr Sharkey said Ireland must have a real debate on immigration.

And - during a debate which also heard Ms Freeman and businessman Gavin Duffy call for one-term presidential limits and for all presidential costs to be made public - Mr Sharkey said while he does not agree with all of Mr Trump's views people need to accept he is "getting the job done".

"In relation to America, I won 50 quid on Donald Trump. When I saw Trump first I said 'oh my god, it's John Wayne'. You remember John Wayne," Mr Sharkey said, before quoting the film star by saying "where are the broads at!".

"He [Mr Trump] hasn't killed as many as the rest of them [former US presidents], but that's the vote. You may not like him, but I would rather a boss who got the job done than a boss who was a nice man.

"He was elected president and we need to get over it," Mr Sharkey said, and then added Mr Trump should be given plaudits for "giving up that beautiful wife and all that golf, at his age".

The potential presidential candidate's comments sparked an angry response from Carlow county councillors, with one member of the local authority warning Mr Sharkey he would "never" support someone who did not reject Mr Trump as a political leader.

Artist Kevin Sharkey
Artist Kevin Sharkey

However, Mr Sharkey continued with his view, saying Mr Trump's America First policy should be mirrored with an "Ireland First" approach.

"When people say put Ireland first, that's just common sense... When I go to Birmingham, Manchester, Luton, I see something I never want to see in Ireland.

"I know racism, this [Mr Sharkey's comments] is not racism," he said, adding he is in favour of an inclusive approach to Irish society, has known racism throughout his life and would like a Travellers Day event every year at Leinster House.

Mr Sharkey comments came during a special nominations meeting in which three other potential candidates - Ms Freeman, Mr Duffy and Independent candidate Patrick Feeney - also made presidential support bids.

Ms Freeman used her speech to say Pope Francis must meet victims of clerical sex abuse when he visits Ireland next week, warning the country "needs" to see the head of the catholic church apologise for what happened.

"Like you, I am very very anxious the Pope will visit the victims of sexual abuse in this country.

"I would be very disappointed if he didn't, because the Pope has very significant healing powers and we need that as a country," Ms Freeman told Labour councillor Willie Quinn.

Ms Freeman also said she wants to limit a presidential term to six years and that she "absolutely" believes all presidential costs must be made public.

Rival Gavin Duffy echoed the views, and said he wants to introduce a presidential youth corp which would replace the lost "missionary" nature of Irish society if he becomes president as the position should not just be about "tea in the park".

Independent candidate Patrick Feeney said he wants the job to "challenge the status quo", while a fourth candidate - Marie Goretti Moylan - did not turn up for the debate.

Update 3.52pm: Gavin Duffy says presidency should be for one term

The President should not serve more than one term in office, according to one potential candidate for the Áras.

Presidential hopefuls are addressing Carlow County Council this afternoon looking for its support to run.

One Independent Councillor declared support for businessman Gavin Duffy during the meeting.

Duffy was the first to speak to the council and was asked if he thinks the Presidential term of seven years is too long.

Duffy replied: "I'm not sure about the second term.

"I think seven years in any job is long enough. And the one thing that I've committed is - I will give an indication of my own position, if I was elected, at the end of the sixth year.

"I won't be leaving it until the last moment.

"But I think one term, if we were changing the law. That's what I would change."

Presidential hopeful says Trump's America First policy should be mirrored with an 'Ireland First' approach

- Digital Desk

Earlier: Council to hear pitches from five potential Presidential candidates, but not 'Candidate X'

Presidential hopefuls will make their pitches to Carlow County Council this afternoon, seeking a nomination to run for the Áras.

Five potential candidates will address the council looking for its backing, as the bid to get on the Presidential ballot continues this afternoon.

Candidates need four local councils, or 20 TDs or Senators to support them in order to run.

This afternoon, Independent Senator Joan Freeman, businessman Gavin Duffy, artist Kevin Sharkey, former Aer Lingus worker Patrick Feeney and Athlone woman Marie Goretti Moylan will make their pitches to the council.

They will have a 15-minute speech followed by questions and answers.

Carlow will be the second council to hear from candidates with more meetings planned in the coming weeks.

The council also received a letter asking them to back Fianna Fáil TD Eamon O Cuiv, but members said they could not invite him in without a letter of intent to run from the Deputy himself.

Presidential hopeful says Trump's America First policy should be mirrored with an 'Ireland First' approach

Councillors said they also received requests for backing from someone who called themselves 'Candidate X', promising to run on policies which include to close every mosque in the country, and to march to Downing St and ask for the six counties back.

The council will not be hearing from 'Candidate X'.

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