Gavin Duffy: Businessman and Dragon’s Den star contesting the Irish presidential election

The entrepreneur is one of several independent candidates who has received a nomination to contest the election on 26 October

Ben Kelly
Thursday 25 October 2018 08:45 BST
Irish Minister for Justice backs Michael D Higgins for re-election

Gavin Duffy is one of a number of independent candidates who will contest the upcoming Irish presidential election.

The businessman announced he was was running in August, and has now received the backing of enough councils to make it onto the ballot paper. He will face the incumbent Michael D Higgins, Senator Joan Freeman, fellow Dragon's Den star Sean Gallagher and Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada on 26 October.

Who is Gavin Duffy?

Mr Duffy began his career as a shareholder in radio stations, and in 1992 he co-founded a media and management consultancy. He is a former owner of the HRM Group of Companies, one of Ireland’s largest recruitment companies.

He has been a panellist on the Irish version of Dragon’s Den for all eight seasons since the show began in 2009.

He is also a regular conference speaker at events in Ireland, and has moderated political debates.

While this is his first venture into the world of politics, he has worked in the past as an advisor to both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil​, and has coached a number of senior leaders.

What are his views?

As a former chairman of the Hunting Association of Ireland, Mr Duffy grew immediate criticism from animal rights campaigners when he announced his intention to run. He defended his background saying that the people around the country involved in rural pursuits know him and would be supporting him.

He has called for a new road, rail and broadband corridor running “from Derry to Kerry” to help development in the west of Ireland.

Mr Duffy has said he would accept the full presidential salary of €350,000, in contrast with the current President Higgins who has voluntarily reduced his own salary to just under €250,000.

Speaking of the role as head of state, Mr Duffy has said, “I have enough energy for it. I will express the mood of the country at times of national tragedy and triumph.”

What are his chances of winning?

As he doesn’t have the backing of a political party, Mr Duffy has had to gain the support of at least four county councils, and he has succeeded with the backing of Meath, Carlow, Wicklow and Waterford.

Mr Duffy is fairly well known in Ireland, but it’s not certain that people would back him in strong numbers for such a high office. It is also likely he will cut a similar figure to Sean Gallagher, who already enjoys fairly strong support, having come second in the presidential election of 2011.

However, it's still highly unlikely that either candidate will be able to oust President Higgins, who appears to be on course to win a second term.

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