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Posted 29 September 2011

Irish presidential election candidates attend UCD student debate

Four of the seven candidates running for the ninth presidency of Ireland attended a debate hosted by the UCD Law Society: Mary Davis (Independent), Michael D Higgins (Labour), Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael), and Sean Gallagher (Independent).

In front of more than 500 students, in a packed lecture theatre, the four candidates argued for the motion: 'This house believes that the presidency is relevant to the young people of Ireland'.

They also took the opportunity to set out the reasons why they think young people should vote for them in the Presidential election.

In her address, Mary Davis committed to appointing young people on to the Council of State and to bring young people on trade missions should she win the election.

"I do feel young people feel disenfranchised and disconnected at the moment from the political system and I would like to address that and ensure that young people have a voice and have a say," she said.

Sean Gallagher focused on how he would help to create employment opportunities for young people in Ireland. "It is sad that many of you will emigrate because there are no jobs," he said.

Michael D Higgins highlighted the need for a 'creative society'. "We need to be creative in everything we do," he said.

"Creative in how we care for people, creative in administration, in trade and in diplomacy. And when we have done that, we will have arrived at a version of Irishness that is exciting and celebratory and that makes us want to be Irish at home and abroad."

He pledged that the first presidential seminar he will run will be about being young in Ireland, being young and educated, young and unemployed, and 'above all, people threatened by youth suicide'.

Gay Mitchell also highlighted his aim of reducing the rates of suicide among young people in Ireland should he be elected President. He detailed his career highlights and achievements, as Lord Mayor of Dublin and as an MEP, to show his suitability for the Presidency.

"I believe in enterprise and social justice, rights and responsibilities," he said.

The debate was chaired by RTE Presenter and Broadcaster, Joe Duffy. David Norris (Independent), Dana Rosemary Scallon (Independent), and Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) did not attend the debate.

The motion was carried by a strong majority.

"By organising this Presidential debate we hoped that students would realise that the political classes value our views, and that our voice counts," said Francis Mc Namara, Auditor of the UCD Law Society.

"We are truly grateful to those candidates who came to present their views and aspirations for the Irish Presidency should they be elected."

Nominations for the Presidential election closed at midday on 28 Sept 2011. A record seven candidates are running to succeed President Mary McAleese. The election will take place on Thursday 27 October 2011.


All seven candidates were interviewed on RTÉ Prime Time


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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