From Conor Kane
Will-be presidential candidate Kevin Sharkey said he was called the N-word just six weeks ago and pleaded for being nominated as "the first black president of Ireland" to send a message to racists.
Sharkey, an artist and activist, was one of five people who spoke to Kilkenny County Council yesterday in search of a place on the ballot for the presidential election.
Dragons & # 39; Den judge Gavin Duffy, senator and Pieta House founder Joan Freeman, and musician Jimmy Smyth also turned to the councilors.
There was also a pitch from Seamus Nolan, who represented the campaign William Delaney 1957-1970, to emphasize the case of a young boy who died in state care, three years after his detention at the age of nine for stealing a loaf of bread.
Kilkenny County Council will hold another meeting on Monday, September 10 to hear from other candidates, including Sarah Louise Mulligan, Gemma O & # 39; Doherty and another Dragon & # 39 ;, Peter Casey. A third "dragon", Sean Gallagher, was not one of the names that the councilors proposed as the search for their nomination.
During his pitch, Mr. Sharkey referred to his work in which he emphasized that there had been institutional abuse after his sexual abuse as a child, and he said that he was "the first man in Ireland" who, twelve years ago, pleaded for the legalization of civil partnerships for homosexuals.
He is asked a lot about racism, he said, and described it as "one of the most awful things you could experience" and said, "I was called six weeks ago as a n **** r, where I live.
Freeman said that from the age of 17 she campaigned for mental health.
"I am here because I want to lead this country to a better way of life," she said, adding that mental health and aging issues are one of her main concerns.
"Our country can play a leading role among global partners and experts in health and well-being," she said.
Freeman wants to hold a presidential forum on the issue and be in favor of all organizations dealing with the elderly and mental health.
Mr. Duffy said he wanted to use "the kind of" soft power "that Irish presidents enjoyed, such as Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese in their work with the rightholder and in the north, but not specifically in the constitution.
"Just like me, they all had one thing in common: the dream of making a difference, and I believe that I am ideally suited to using the soft power of the presidency for the benefit of our people, but within the constitutional framework. "
Referring to his association with the Ward Union Hunt in North Co. Dublin, Mr. Duffy said he was never a member, but "defended" the group because of his concern for the native Irish red deer herd.
About his colleague "Dragons" in the nomination contest, Mr. Duffy said: "I understand that the audience is stunned, but I am the one who came here today, I am serious about this."