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Candidates lodge papers as official campaigning in presidential election set to get under way

We’re just a month out from polling day.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WENT to the Custom House in Dublin today, to hand in their papers to formally get on the ballot for next month’s election.

Seán Gallagher, Joan Freeman, Gavin Duffy and Peter Casey – who were all nominated by city and county councils throughout the country – were there to present their papers in the capital today with incumbent Michael D Higgins and Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada also set to be on the 26 October ballot.

Speaking after lodging his papers, Gallagher has criticised RTÉ for scheduling the presidential debate between candidates at a time that clashes with Michael D Higgins’ prior commitments.

A debate was due to take place on RTÉ Radio One’s News at One tomorrow, but this was then moved to Thursday; Higgins released a statement saying he was looking forward to “engaging with other candidates”, but said that he was “constrained” this week.

Gallagher had confirmed that he would attend the radio debate, but had previously said that he’d refuse to take part in debates unless the incumbent was also involved.

This morning, while at the Custom House to lodge his presidential papers, he told reporters that there had been much talk about the presidential debate in recent days.

This is not about Seán Gallagher and it is not about Michael D Higgins, it is about three things. It is about respect for the office of the president, it is about respect for the incumbent of that office, and importantly, it is about respect for the electorate.
This situation could have easily been avoided, had RTÉ contacted the office of the president to find out if indeed the president was available on these scheduled dates.

He said that it was clear from the schedules available online that Michael D Higgins was unavailable on the proposed dates for a radio debate.

I would encourage RTÉ to contact the office and to find out the dates the president will be available and then to schedule the debates accordingly.

The official launch of President Michael D Higgins’ presidential election campaign is at 4pm tomorrow at his campaign headquarters on Lord Edward Street, Dublin.

- with reporting from Hayley Halpin, Sean Murray

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