Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy in plea to Longford voters as race for Áras hots up

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Gavin Duffy

Irish Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy with his wife Orlaith Carmody and Longford Leader journalist Liam Cosgrove.

Irish Presidential nominee Gavin Duffy has issued a rallying cry to Longford voters by insisting he is the best candidate to succeed Michael D Higgins as President.

The former Dragons' Den star and businessman stopped off in the county last Friday for a brief exchange with local media as his campaign for the Áras got underway.

Mr Duffy, who is one of three former investors to have appeared on the long running RTÉ series vying for the Áras, didn't take long in directing his ire at the man currently in situ at Dublin's Phoenix Park.

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The communications guru was especially keen to call into question President Higgins' response to revelations of the allocation of an unaudited €317,000 annual allowance for hospitality at Áras An Uachtaráin.

Asked if he was convinced by the former Labour TD's response to the claims, Mr Duffy was not shy in making his own feelings abundantly clear.

“I am most definitely not satisfied,” he said, as he spoke to the Leader from inside the confines of his presidential campaign bus.

“If you are spending exchequer money you have to be accountable, so I believe we have to know about every cent that is spent in the Áras and how it is spent.

“President Higgins says: 'I stayed a night in a hotel in Geneva in a large suite that cost €3,000 a night and that had nothing to do with me because I didn’t book it'.

“I don’t know if you have been in many €3,000 suites but when you walk into them you know you are in an expensive suite.

“This is the judgement you look for in a head of State and you have to say to yourself: 'Do I need something as palatial as this?”

Despite those criticisms, many industry pundits still make the incumbent 77-year-old a firm favourite to hold onto the office of president.

That said, Mr Duffy refuted suggestions his campaign was little more than a self serving ego trip as he outlined his own plans to tackle childhood obesity and set up an Ireland International Youth Corps.

“I am someone who has been a professional communicator, speaker and we look to someone in a president who is competent and who can speak on our behalf, who will represent us at home and abroad and I feel I have a proven track record of doing that,” he added.

He also confessed his “disappointment” at both his former Dragons' Den colleague's Sean Gallagher and President Higgins' refusal to take part in the first of a series of presidential debates next Monday (October 15) on the Claire Byrne Live programme.

“I don’t think any candidate should feel they are different, above or superior to others so, yes, I am disappointed.

“I think it’s very important that people who have to decide this day three weeks who they are going to vote for. Are they going to go for more of the same or are they going to go for someone different who is going to enhance the presidency and give us value for money?”

Just how the electorate view that question it's one which will only become clear on October 26 next.