Sean Gallagher, the Fianna Fáil independent candidate who has been leading the latter stages of the #aras11 race must be hoping that the finishing lines comes as quickly as possible. Martin McGuinness presided over a a very public unfolding of Gallagher’s memory of collecting donations for Fianna Fáil on the final debate on Frontline last night (although no-one seems to have noticed that he had instant recall of the individual he claimed to have had no memory of seconds before). This included a dreadful gaffe in referring to an envelope.
Although Mick has also flagged this moment, it was only one of a number of instances where Gallagher was clearly at a loss to explain away various issues of the ‘money was just resting in my account’ variety (in one case, literally so). If you can’t access the video (which has been slow to appear), there is always the Journal.ie’s liveblog here. Today, Gallagher has accused Sinn Féin and unnamed others of dirty tricks in providing factual details of his past to the public.
There was even a spat with a woman in the audience who wished to ask a question (again as reported by the Journal.ie) which spilled over onto the radio this morning:
When Kenny brought up a question raised by a woman in the audience last night about allegations regarding his business practices, Gallagher interrupted and said Kenny should explain what that person’s background and allegiances are and bring her before him to make her claims.
Kenny said the woman was willing to come on air this morning, to which Gallagher said he was not interested in taking her on.
Coming on air, the woman said she was a completely normal person without a political agenda. “I’m not involved in any parties and I don’t know a single politician,” she said, before adding that she found it disconcerting that Gallagher was not willing to answer a question from a member of the public.
Those unnamed others must include the Irish Independent since it has chosen to run a story in this morning’s paper on Gallagher, who promotes himself as a champion of the youth and voluntary sector, charging €5,000 to GAA clubs to help them apply for funding from state agencies. Having led the polls for the latter stages of the campaign, Gallagher won’t have the opportunity to assess any damage until the actual count itself. It may even have shifted the balance of first and second preferences in favour of Michael D Higgins.
In many ways this election has largely been a distraction and little more (although Sinn Féin may feel it has served its purpose in securing the party’s position on the political front rank with Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil). Meanwhile, in the real world, the existential crisis engulfing the EU and eurozone has not abated. And a more likely measure of public attitudes towards the government will be read from the results of the Dublin West by-election, which also takes place on Thursday (with a possible contest in Wexford likely in the near future).