Belfast Telegraph

Presidential race marred by attacks

Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher fears the race for the Aras will turn into a Punch and Judy fight between political parties.

The entrepreneur said the real issues have to be debated so he and fellow Independents can get their message out for the October 27 election.

He believes the next president needs to tackle unemployment and restore Ireland's confidence and its image abroad.

"The real issue and the real debate now needs to take place," said Mr Gallagher. My concern is that now it will descend into a Punch and Judy fight of political parties defending their position or attacking others, as we've seen during the week, rather than a debate on the real issues."

The latest poll has Mr Gallagher with just 11% of votes, lagging behind Independent Mary Davis and Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, both on 13%, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, 16%, and Labour's Michael D Higgins, 18%.

However poll topper Senator David Norris, on 21%, is still chasing the final two signatures to secure a nomination from Oireachtas colleagues after Senator Shane Ross finally agreed to sign his papers.

The spotlight is back on Independent TDs Michael Lowry and Mattie McGrath who have both appeared to suggest they would not block him.

Dana Rosemary Scallon, who got just 6% in the Sunday Business Post/Rec C poll, is also aiming to make it on to the ballot papers with the support of four local councils.

But Mr Norris' bid to get the backing of Mr McGrath was dealt a blow when his election team voted against nominating the Senator.

Of 71 of Mr McGrath's core supporters who took the secret vote 75% - 53 - went against the Tipperary TD backing Mr Norris.

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