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Freeman wins city council presidential nomination

Tuesday, 4th September, 2018 11:09am

Last night saw the presidential race hot up with Senator Joan Freeman chosen as Cork City Council’s presidential candidate.

Senator Freeman was chosen at last night’s meeting of Cork City Council, which saw several hopefuls pitch their campaigns to sitting councillors.

Freeman, a mental health advocate and founder of the Pieta House non-profit organisation, won the nomination with 14 votes and 11 abstentions on the night, staving off competition from the likes of journalist Gemma O’Doherty and businessman Gavin Duffy.

The nomination was only the second to be secured after 'Dragon's Den' star Duffy received the backing of Meath County Council earlier yesterday afternoon. Prospective candidates must secure four council nominations to be officially accepted onto the ballot on 26 October.

Speaking after her selection, Senator Freeman said she was particularly happy to win in Cork. “I’m more delighted than anything that it’s Cork. I lived here for five months, set up Pieta House, lived in a convent, brought my husband here. So I feel like I have a special friendship with Cork.

“I really do believe we can turn the spotlight on mental health. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have a president who runs on a platform of mental health in a world where it’s ignored by so many?”

In her address, Senator Freeman had outlined the importance of her work with Pieta House, and Cork’s dedication to supporting mental health through the Darkness into Light walk. She said she felt being president could have a better impact than her Seanad work, saying that getting legislation passed was a slow process.

Other prospective candidates who addressed the Council on the night included businessman and 'Dragon’s Den' star Gavin Duffy, who praised incumbent Michael D Higgins but said he wanted to offer a “more dynamic, evolving presidency”.

Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty also spoke, saying she wanted to fight against a “culture of corruption damaging democracy and the relationship between the elite and the electorate”. She was questioned on recent comments on the death of Veronica Guerin by councillors, responding that it had “nothing to do” with her presidential bid.

Sarah-Louise Mulligan, a self-confessed Donald Trump supporter and Marilyn Monroe impersonator, told the council she would use the presidency to raise awareness of abuse and communicate openly with young people, adding that she was “inspired” by President Trump and his policies.

Others included musician Jimmy Smyth, who said the recession was not over for a lot of people despite Ireland’s economic growth, and Roscommon farmer John Groarke, who said he would like to see an independent ‘Free State Central Bank’ established.

Presidential hopefuls will be back Leeside this Friday, when they will make their pitches to members of Cork County Council.

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