Gallagher profile: Businessman’s ‘fresh approach' to secure Ireland’s future globally

Businessman Sean Gallagher was a relatively low-key figure at the start of the 2011 presidential election campaign, galloping past other contenders as the race climaxed towards voting day.

Gallagher profile: Businessman’s ‘fresh approach' to secure Ireland’s future globally

Businessman Sean Gallagher was a relatively low-key figure at the start of the 2011 presidential election campaign, galloping past other contenders as the race climaxed towards voting day.

This time around, the Cavan man will be front and centre of the contest and no doubt will mount a significant challenge to the incumbent, President Michael D Higgins.

Mr Gallagher managed to win some 505,000 first preference votes in the 2011 contest, coming second to Michael D Higgins who secured 701,000 first preference votes.

With just days before that vote though, the focus on the Dragon’s Den star turned to his connections with Fianna Fáil and his role as fundraiser for the party.

Mr Gallagher had managed to capture the imagination of voters with his focus on Irish enterprise and his rise from a humble background to millionaire businessman.

This all came crashing down during an RTÉ TV election debate, in which presenter Pat Kenny read out a fake twitter account message which claimed Sinn Féin were going to “produce the man who gave you the cheque for five grand”.

A report later criticised the broadcaster for how it dealt with the questioning of Sean Gallagher.

He later sued RTÉ over what became known as ‘Tweetgate’, receiving substantial damages.

He had been polling at 40%, but Michael D Higgins won out on the day.

Now the 56-year-old, who is married to Patricia O’Connor, is back for a second run for Áras an Uachtaráin, and intends to set out his vision in the coming days.

Tellingly, in his statement yesterday announcing his intentions, Mr Gallagher said the next president needs to provide a “fresh approach”. While not naming Michael D Higgins, this would seem to suggest the incumbent is his main target.

He also mentioned that, while confronted with challenges, Ireland should secure its future as a significant player within Europe and globally. This would suggest business will again be a focus point for him in this race.

Mr Gallagher is a co-founder of Smart Homes, which integrates technology into houses.

He previously was involved in Fianna Fáil, starting out in the 1980s as a member of Ógra Fianna Fáil and also served on the party’s National Youth Committee.

Aside from being among the first set of investors on the TV show Dragon’s Den, he is also a mentor and a motivational speaker.

Mr Gallagher also has links with other businesses. He sits on the board of pharma engineering firm Team Horizon, and is chief executive of Clyde Real Estate, while also acting as president of US pharmaceutical and health company Nutribrand.

The businessman also writes for the Sunday Independent and profiles SMEs for the newspaper.

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