Sean Gallagher's decency is a perfect fit for the Presidency
AS WE are about to enter the final week of the Presidential campaign all opinion polls point to a battle now for the Aras between veteran politician, Michael D Higgins and my Dragons' Den colleague, the youngest candidate, Sean Gallagher.
As Sean surges in the polls I keep being asked what is he really like? The man who could be your next President is a man I have seen far too often in just his boxer shorts and socks. For the last three years we have shared a dressing room on the set of Dragons' Den and have become the very good friends.
Whereas I am a business person with a passing interest in politics Sean Gallagher is a politician with a passing interest in business. Sean is actually an enterprise mentor rather than a true entrepreneur himself. He is more involved in thinking about the nation's business structures whereas a true entrepreneur only focuses narrowly on their own business venture.
He worked as an officer for a County Enterprise Board in Louth. In that role he came across Derek Roddy who had the vision of cabling new homes for technology. Sean jumped aboard forming a great business partnership and made Smart Homes a very significant success. Derek Roddy is very much a behind the scenes man so Sean was the public face of Smart Homes and next thing there he was on the TV as part one of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur s of the Year. With the construction crash Smart Homes has scaled back to 20 employees. If only all those journalists who report this as a negative each maintained 20 families in employment wouldn't it be fantastic for our economy.
The Producers of Dragons' Den were always giving out to him for being far too considerate to people who failed to get an investment from the Dragons. When all the Dragons are 'out' the producers would have to tell Sean repeatedly, the person is supposed to leave the Den to the sound of their own footsteps. But Sean couldn't help himself, he'd wish them luck and try to console them and even try to walk them down the stairs. Remarkably, the very perceptive Bobby Kerr, would always slag Sean asking are you looking for another vote Sean?
So we all knew Sean was destined for Politics and to me he was definitely Fianna Fail. However he never stopped giving out about Fianna Fail being out of touch and that it had been in power too long for its own sake and for the country.
He despised how arrogant some of the long serving Ministers had become. He ranted regularly about one in particular, who shall remain nameless, long before that Minister resigned before the last election and ran over the hill with a very large pension.
It also became clear to me that Sean was not a fan of Bertie Ahern or maybe Bertie had not been a fan of Sean. To understand Sean Gallagher it is best to look at the company he kept in Fianna Fail. His first involvement was a very minor one with the late John Wilson and then he actually worked for Rory O'Hanlon and later, was no less than, Director of Elections for Seamus Kirk.
That says all you need to know about Sean Gallagher. He worked with three of the finest gentleman to ever enter Dail Eireann. There are bad people in every political party but there are also some very fine people and that's whom Sean Gallagher was always associated with.
It can be said of Sean Gallagher like it was said of John Wilson, Rory O'Hanlon and Seamus Kirk, that he is too decent and too nice a guy to make it to the very top of party politics. So he is perfect for the Presidency which is about being 'diplomatic' for seven years.
The big secret weapon of Sean Gallagher is his beautiful wife, Trish O'Connor. On the canvass every other woman who gets a quiet word with her asks, wouldn't it be lovely to have a baby in the Aras? It is Sean's youth, positivity and plain good manners that are winning him support. Perhaps the Presidency has come too late for Michael D. A man at the ploughing said of Higgins, ' he's far too old for the job'. This came surprisingly from a 74 year old.
The Irish Public in their wisdom have narrowed the field down to just the two intellectual heavyweights. The one thing Gallagher personifies is the art of the possible. For those who sneered at him entering the presidential race even they have to admire him for demonstrating the power of self belief and thinking outside the box. Just imagine winning a national election without putting up a single poster. He who dares - wins.