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Seán Gallagher promises to stay in Irish embassies rather than hotels if elected president

President Michael D Higgins faced questions at this campaign launch about reports he stayed in a hotel which cost €3,000 per night.

Image: RTE

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SEÁN Gallagher has promised to only stay in Irish embassies or their accommodation when travelling abroad if he is elected president. 

He said this will minimise the expense to the Irish taxpayer.

His comments come after President Michael D Higgins faced questions at this campaign launch this week about reports he stayed in a hotel which cost €3,000 per night. 

He told a room of journalists on Wednesday that his foreign travel is arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs, adding:

“I don’t care for staying in expensive hotels… I couldn’t care less if I stay in a tent.”

Speaking on the campaign trail in Cavan today, Gallagher said:

It is important to lead by example and ensure that where possible that the use of public funds is minimised. The Office of the President must lead by example and by committing to stay in the Irish embassies I want to lay down a marker about my approach to the spending of public funds.

Earlier today on Virgin Media’s Ireland Am programme, Gallagher was also asked about the RTÉ presidential election debate in 2011. 

“I think certainly the programme, the Frontline and the radio programme the following morning, Pat Kenny’s, was unfair and was found to be unfair by both the Broadcasting Authority and indeed it took me a protracted six years of a High Court case against RTÉ to get that apology and to get a clear understanding from RTÉ that they accepted both the fake tweet but also the full review that was carried out internally about how the audience was selected, how the questioners were selected, how the questions were written or redrafted and how they were specifically targeted at some candidates.”

It caused me to doubt my own memory momentarily and I think a lot of people at home watched that and I may have come across unconvincing and I’ve put my hand up and say it was not my finest performance because of that.

In December 2017, RTÉ apologised to Sean Gallagher, who is also running in this year’s election, and paid him “substantial damages” in a settlement over a tweet read out on a live televised debate during the 2011 presidential election campaign.

The tweet in question purported to be from an account linked to Sinn Féin’s 2011 candidate, the late Martin McGuinness. It said a man who claimed to have given a cheque to Gallagher for a Fianna Fáil fundraiser would talk to the media at a press conference the following day. 

RTÉ last year acknowledged that it should have verified the origin of the tweet, and that the tweet should not have been erroneously attributed to McGuinness. 

Gallagher’s rating in opinion polls dropped after the broadcast and he eventually came second in the election, behind Michael D Higgins. 

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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