Sinn Fein candidate calls on President Higgins to join in election debates

24th Sep 18 | News

Liadh Ni Riada said a debate amongst the presidential candidates was necessary.

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Presidential candidate Liadh Ni Riada has called on President Michael D Higgins to participate in debates during the election campaign.

Ms Ni Riada said a debate was necessary amongst the candidates.

The Sinn Fein candidate made the comments as she handed in her nomination papers at Dublin’s Custom House on Monday, officially kick-starting her campaign.

Irish presidential election
MEP Liadh Ni Riada (Tom Honan/PA)

She was joined by party leader Mary Lou McDonald and finance spokesman Pearse Doherty as she made her way to register her papers.

“It is only right that people need to hear what the candidates have to say and lay out their vision for a new Ireland,” Ms Ni Riada said.

The Sinn Fein MEP is one of six candidates in the running for the highest office in the State.

President Higgins, who has launched a bid for a second term in office, has not confirmed whether he will take part in any debates in the run up to polling day.

The first debate is expected to take place on RTE Radio’s News at One programme on Wednesday.

Dragons’ Den businessman Sean Gallagher has threatened to pull out of any debate that Mr Higgins was not part of it.

It is the second time Mr Gallagher is running against Mr Higgins for the role.

In 2011, Mr Gallagher was one of seven candidates to lose out to President Higgins in the last election.

Last year, national broadcaster RTE apologised to Mr Gallagher over a tweet read out during a live TV debate during the last election campaign.

The tweet was purported to be from an official account linked to the late Martin McGuinness, who also ran for president in 2011.

However, it later emerged the account was not the official campaign account of the Sinn Fein candidate.

Ms Ni Riada said that if Mr Gallagher chose not to be part of any debates, it would be his loss.

“The people of Ireland need to hear what all the candidates have to say,” Ms Ni Riada said.

She added: “It just makes perfect sense really, people deserve a debate.”

Two of Mr Gallagher’s former Dragons’ Den colleagues – businessmen Gavin Duffy and Sean Casey – and the founder of Pieta House suicide prevention charity senator Joan Freeman are also running to take hold of the office for the next seven years.

Presidential hopefuls have until Wednesday at 12 noon to register their nominations.

The election will take place on October 26.

© Press Association 2018