President Higgins: & # 39; I never run away from a campaign & # 39;

By Elaine Loughlin and Noel Baker

President Michael D Higgins has "never run away from a campaign" in his life and is looking forward to a second term in Áras an Uachtarain.

The President has, however, refused to confirm whether he will participate in all debates broadcast on TV.

Cavan-businessman and former Dragons & # 39; Den-judge Sean Gallagher, who has received a nomination from local councils, has already said that he will not participate in a debate on television that does not include Mr. Higgins.

Fellow Dragons & Judge Peter Casey became yesterday's sixth candidate nominated after Limerick City and County Council and Tipperary County Council decided to select him. He already had the support of councils in Kerry and Clare.

When he opened the National Team Championships this year, Mr. Higgins spoke for a "worthy" campaign.

Three of the five candidates who received a nomination were also present yesterday on the first day of teamwork and there was a pleasant but short exchange between Mr. Higgins and Mr. Gallagher when they met at the bandstand.

Gavin Duffy, the third Dragons & # 39; Den-judge in the race, and Senator Joan Freeman also took the opportunity to apply for the event in Screggan, Co Offaly, yesterday.

Asked about the upcoming presidential elections, Mr. Higgins said, "I'm really looking forward to the campaign, I've never run away from a campaign in my life, for heaven's sake, and I'm glad I've answered questions for about 30 or 40 years in relationship to campaigns, I'm looking forward to it. "

He said, however, that the issue of his participation in the presidential debates has yet to be resolved.

"It must be negotiated, my campaign team will discuss this," he said.

"Now let's run a campaign that deals honestly with real problems, let's talk about real problems and let it be worthy."

Mr. Higgins received an unqualified seal of approval in the Irish Examiner / ICMSA poll published this week. The survey among farmers has shown that 87% think he has been a good president.

Freeman, who attended the agricultural event for the first time, said that Mr. Higgins should participate in all debates and still see the current president as her biggest rival.

"As you have seen in the polls recently, it is very clear that Michael D Higgins has the strongest chances, but it is an early day and we have a few more weeks to go, so let's see how things will happen in the coming weeks. go, "she said. , pointing out that Mary Robinson was at 1% in the polls prior to her election as president.

Mr Gallagher, accompanied by his wife Trish, said that the campaign is only starting right now.

"All candidates will outline our vision for the future for the next seven years and I think that Ireland faces many changes and unpredictability and so the next presidency will be about a new face, a new image, a new liveliness to meet those challenges. to go, "he said.

"All candidates, we will outline our vision in the next six weeks and it is up to the voters to decide on the day of the elections."

Duffy said he was encouraged by the number of people who had approached him during the Plowing Championships to say that they would vote for him.

"I am ambitious for Ireland and what can be achieved by the Presidency, fully aware of the constitutional restrictions, the political framework in which it must operate," he said.

"I know I can distinguish myself from the other candidates, it's six weeks, it's been a long time in politics, I believe there will be a very interesting fight."

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