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Mitchell: 'I haven't been confrontational with anybody'

The Fine Gael presidential candidate has denied he has been confrontational with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness during the campaign.

Gay Mitchell
Gay Mitchell
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FINE GAEL PRESIDENTIAL candidate Gay Mitchell has denied that he has been confrontational during the election campaign.

Mitchell was responding to questions on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about his behaviour with Sinn Féin candidate Martin McGuinness who has come under heavy criticism for his past associations with the IRA by members of Fine Gael including government ministers.

McGuinness and Mitchell famously clashed on a Newstalk radio programme earlier this month leading to McGuinness criticising what he said was Fine Gael’s “black propaganda”.

But Mitchell has insisted this morning that his questions to McGuinness were part of “normal discourse”.

He told Morning Ireland:

I haven’t been confrontational with anybody. The only person I asked is Mr McGuinness to say why he says he’s not a Sinn Féin candidate. Since when did that become confrontation?

To ask somebody to say why they’re saying they’re not a Sinn Féin candidate and why they claim not to be a member of the IRA, I don’t understand how that’s confrontation. That’s part of normal discourse, normal debate.

In the interview, Mitchell also responded to a weekend of polls which did not make for good reading.

In a Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post Mitchell commanded just 8 per cent of the vote but he insisted that such was the volatility of presidential polls he was still in with a chance.

He said:

You have to compare it with same situation in the last presidential election when the front runner on 38 per cent ended up on less than 7 per cent.

Volatility is, to put it mildly, the guiding principle in these polls.

All I can tell you is my hand on my heart, I do not believe these polls will be the polls that will come out next Thursday week and I think most people are simply answering polls as they’re put to them.

I have never, in my entire life in politics, except in the last presidential election, see somebody go up by 19 per cent and down by 19 per cent.

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Mitchell also spoke about his vision for the presidency saying that people were looking for someone with experience to takeover in the Phoenix Park and did not want someone who will be “learning on the job” once elected.

He said: “This is a political job, I am a businessman, my business is politics.”

The MEP added that it was his belief Ireland was on the “cusp of a recovery” and spoke about one of the main themes of his campaign, dealing with suicide in Ireland.

He also said that he wanted “real inclusiveness” as opposed to “politically correct inclusiveness” if elected.

In full: TheJournal.ie’s Race for the Áras coverage >

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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