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15th Oct 2018

“Insulting to the people of Ireland.” Sean Gallagher blasts Michael D Higgins for refusal to take part in TV debate

Conor Heneghan

Sean Gallagher

Gallagher said that Higgins’ decision not to participate “shows contempt for the integrity of our electoral process”.

Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher has described as “insulting to the people of Ireland” the decision by current incumbent Michael D Higgins not to take part in the Claire Byrne Live Presidential Debate on RTÉ on Monday night.

In a letter to the current President, written and delivered to Áran an Uachtaráin on Sunday night and posted on his Twitter account on Monday, Gallagher asked Higgins to reconsider his decision not to participate in the debate.

Gallagher said he was “disappointed” by Higgins’ decision, expressed his belief that “it is insulting to the people of Ireland” and said that it “shows contempt for the integrity of our electoral process”.

“Furthermore, it serves to feed the disconnect between the people of Ireland and the Office of President, particularly in the context of recent concerns about trust and transparency,” Gallagher added.

You can read the letter in full below.

Gallagher and Higgins both took part in a debate on Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra on RTÉ Radio One over the weekend, a debate which also featured the remaining nominees, Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Senator Joan Freeman and Liadh Ní Riada MEP.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Cian McCormack on Monday, Gallagher said he wanted to take part in the Claire Byrne debate on Monday night, but that he was “compromised” by Higgins’ decision not to participate, saying it “makes a farce” of the debates if all candidates aren’t involved.

Earlier this month, Higgins revealed that he would not be taking part in the debate on Claire Byrne Live, but that he would participate in an upcoming debate on RTÉ Prime Time and another debate hosted by Pat Kenny on Virgin Media One.

A Paddy Power General and Presidential Election Opinion Poll published last week revealed the strength of Higgins’ position ahead of the election on 26 October, with the current President commanding a first preference share of 70%, with Gallagher next on the list on 14%.

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