Belfast Telegraph

Mitchell confident despite polls

Presidential hopeful Gay Mitchell has warned that choosing celebrity over substance would be a serious mistake for Ireland.

The Fine Gael candidate defended his low poll ratings stating he has the most experience, energy and innovation for the post.

The upbeat politician maintained he can top the election - with transfers - despite languishing anywhere from fourth to sixth place after his support nosedived in recent weeks.

"I'm telling you now, the likelihood is that I will win this election and in three weeks time we'll know the outcome for sure," he told RTE's This Week. "The country definitely needs somebody there who will imbue confidence and knows how to network and has the experience and innovation."

The battle for the presidency has been billed as a two horse race after separate polls put Labour's Michael D Higgins in front with Dragon's Den star Sean Gallagher a close second. Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness remains third, with independents Senator David Norris, Mary Davis and Dana Rosemary Scallon lagging behind.

Mr Mitchell's dire showing, at between 9-10%, prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to call for the party machine to get behind their man.

The MEP maintained nobody up for the job has more experience in local, national and European government than him.

He vowed to restore confidence in this country so children do not have to become part of a skype generation while a President "sips champagne in the park reading poetry".

"The decisions we make now, if we chose celebrity over substance, then we are making a very serious mistake," he continued. "I think there are people who are very good candidates but really don't have the experience or vision that I have.

"I'm not going to name names," he added when pushed.

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