Republic of Ireland news

Derry businessman's no presidential salary pledge criticised

Businessman Peter Casey is the third native of Derry to seek to become President of Ireland
Seamus McKinney

JUSTICE minister Charlie Flanagan has criticised a claim by Derry-born businessman Peter Casey that the President of Ireland does not need a salary.

The former panelist on RTE's Dragon's Den confirmed yesterday that he intends seeking a nomination to contest the presidential election in October.

Mr Casey, who divides his time between Atlanta and Inishowen, has written to councillors in the Republic asking for a nomination to stand against sitting president Michael D Higgins.

From Derry's Buncrana Road, he is the third person from the city to attempt to become president, following unsuccessful campaigns by the late deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and former Eurovision winner Dana Rosemary Scallon.

Mr Casey comes from a well-known family in Derry and is an uncle to the McGoldrick family, many of whom have played Gaelic football and hurling for the county.

Sean Leo, Barry, Colm and Liam and sisters Grainne and Méabh have all represented Derry while another nephew, Niall Holly, is also a county footballer.

Mr Casey is also the third "Dragon" to seek a nomination following the candidatures of Seán Gallagher and Gavin Duffy.

In 2016, he stood unsuccessfully for a seat in Seanad Éireann after winning a nomination on the Industrial and Commercial Panel.

He joins a growing list of people seeking a nomination for the presidential contest, including Mr Duffy and Mr Gallagher, Patrick Feeney, John Groarke, Marie Goretti Moylan, Sarah Louise Mulligan, Gemma O'Doherty, Kevin Sharkey and James Smyth.

Launching his campaign yesterday, Mr Casey said he would not take the €1.7m salary he would be entitled to over seven years if he was elected.

He said: "With all the expenses the president doesn't need a salary at all."

However, Mr Flanagan criticised the suggestion.

"One of the candidates has said that they would not take the salary - that demeans the office of president."

The minister said he looked forward to a "robust" presidential campaign.

"But I and Fine Gael fully support Michael D Higgins and no other candidate in the contest."

He also responded to suggestions that the inclusion of three businessmen in the race could reflect a "Trump effect" in Irish politics.

"The democratic process is open to anyone to put their names forward. The presidential election campaign should be conducted with dignity and a sense of office, of what is a very important role, which has been performed in exemplary fashion by our current president."

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