Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein Irish presidential candidate Liadh Ni Riada 'open to wearing poppy'

Olive branch: Liadh Ni Riada
Olive branch: Liadh Ni Riada

By Denise Calnan and Laura Larkin

Sinn Fein presidential candidate Liadh Ni Riada said she would be open to wearing a poppy on Armistice Day.

The MEP received a round of applause as she said she would wear the symbol to show how mature Ireland as a society has become. She acknowledged some of her party's supporters would not be happy.

Gavin Duffy, meanwhile, was the only candidate who said he would not wear the poppy, as he believes the president should not wear any symbol.

Journalist and broadcaster Claire Byrne posed the questions during the first TV debate of the campaign, which featured four of the candidates.

A woman who hit headlines for presenting a a satirical presidential bid for the Áras race before Dublin City Council also made her voice heard as she heckled Peter Casey.

The candidate attempted to talk through the interruption of Norma Burke, otherwise known as  Bunty Twuntingdon McFuff, but the programme was forced to an ad break.

Gavin Duffy, Liadh Ní Riada, Joan Freeman and Peter Casey all attended the debate, with all four criticising Mr Higgins and Mr Gallagher at the beginning of the programme.

Liadh Ni Riada said she believes the two candidates "think they're above the Irish people".

"It is a sign of contempt," she added.

Joan Freeman said; "Sean Gallagher should be here. It was not the right thing to do for Sean to jump on this. We're all candidates and we're all trying to do our best. Michael D Higgins decided not to be here, but Sean Gallagher should be here."

Gavin Duffy said; "We haven't heard much from Sean for the last seven years, but he had an opportunity tonight.

"They should be here, we're putting ourselves forward for the people," he added.

Meanwhile, Peter Casey quipped; "I was disappointed the Fianna Fail candidate didn't show up."

Last night Mr Gallagher – who has said he will not partake in TV debates unless all candidates are participating – penned a letter to the president asking him to reconsider his decision.

He said: "In light of your unwillingness to participate in all debates and given their importance to our democratic process, I write to ask you to reconsider your decision and how it reflects on the Office of President."

Mr Gallagher said that he had previously defended Mr Higgins missing the News at One radio debate due to the commitments of the office but said that there are no public engagements listed in the president’s public diary for today.

He went onto claim that the decision by Mr Higgins not to take part in the first televised debate of the campaign is "insulting to the people of Ireland and shows contempt for the integrity of our electoral process".

All of the candidates were invited to take part in a debate on the Claire Byrne Show tonight by RTE.

Irish Independent


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