Sean Gallagher winning support among major parties

Sean Gallagher winning support among major parties

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil councillors are reportedly "adopting" Sean Gallagher as their preferred presidential contender out of anger that their calls to run a candidate are being ignored by both parties' hierarchy.

Three councillors from the main parties signalled their support after they and four Independent local politicians publicly backed any likely Aras bid by Mr Gallagher. 

It was further claimed five more councillors have privately told the businessman they will back a nomination request.

Speaking on Radio Kerry, Fianna Fáil's Niall Kelleher said while he wanted Fianna Fáil to run a candidate he has now chosen to back Mr Gallagher because no move has been made by Micheal Martin to have the party enter the race.

Asked about his decision to support the former Dragons Den panelist, the Kerry councillor said: "Maybe we're adopting him as our candidate in the absence of not having a candidate.

I have made the decision I will support him and I believe other Fianna Fáil councillors will do the same.

On north-west radio station Ocean FM, Leitrim-based Fine Gael councillor John McCartin said he is "in no particular humour to support a second term" for Michael D Higgins and will instead support Mr Gallagher.

Asked about how he can comfortably say this publicly when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has firmly advised he wants party members to back President Higgins, Mr McCartin said: "I don't believe he [Mr Varadkar] specifically did, I certainly have no correspondence to say he said that, if such correspondence, such an order, is issued, I feel it would have been done so by now.

I've not heard a dickie bird and, as far as I'm concerned, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil do not have a candidate in this field.

"Sean Gallagher; we can call him a neighbour's child and I have no problem supporting his candidacy.

"I'm getting a sense of disenfranchisement from Fine Gael councillors. When you find yourself down at the lower end of the food chain, you certainly become more disenfranchised with the decision-making process," he added.

While still in a minority, the suggestion of grassroots opposition to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil supporting President Higgins' re-election bid is likely to cause concern for both Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin.

The comments came as it was claimed other local politicians have privately contacted Mr Gallagher, who is widely expected to enter the presidential race within the next 10 days, to offer their support.

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