Gallagher turns down 'unfair' debate with Higgins

Independent Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher has rejected a request from Labour's Michael D Higgins for a two-way debate.

Independent Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher has rejected a request from Labour's Michael D Higgins for a two-way debate.

A weekend opinion poll put the two candidates now well clear of the rest of the field which Sean Gallagher on 39% and Michael D Higgins on 27% support.

Mr Higgins suggested it could take place after tomorrow's wider Presidential debate on TG4.

"Well I’m just leaving a conference now on Inclusion Ireland, and I think that would not be very inclusive," he said.

"Why would we exclude five other candidates? I think we’ve been through 12 or 13 presidential debates so far and a few more to go.

"I think that would be unfair on the other five candidates."

Mr Gallagher was then forced to defend his association with Fianna Fáil, saying there was nothing wrong with being a member of a democratic party.

He said: “I wouldn’t like to think that anybody would be demonised for being a grassroots member of any political party, whether that be Sinn Féin, Fine Gael or Labour.”

He also responded to speculation that he is not as successful an entrepreneur as has previously been claimed, after it came to light that he earned €212 euro a week after tax last year.

He said: “Welcome to the real world. This is where everybody is at the moment. Every shopkeeper I meet, every small business is struggling to survive.

“Survival is the new success. I understand that claim. I’ve been through it.”

He said Smart Homes, the business he was involved with, is now reinventing itself and has a bright future.

“That’s the message for every other business. We’re all struggling. That’s the challenge that all of us need to remain focused on,” he said.

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