Businessman Peter Casey becomes sixth candidate in Irish presidential race

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Londonderry businessman Peter Casey has become the sixth entry in the race to become the next president of Ireland.

The 60-year-old RTE Dragon’s Den star secured the nomination to run as an independent from Tipperary County Council on Tuesday afternoon.

He defeated journalist Gemma O’Doherty by 13 votes to eight at the special meeting of the council in Nenagh.

Earlier, he won the vote at Limerick City and County Council. He previously won nominations by Clare County Council and Kerry County Council.

Presidential election hopefuls must secure the support of four local authorities or 20 TDs and senators to stand in the election.

Mr Casey said he was “elated” to have made it on to the ballot paper.

“The energy and enthusiasm I have been met with by people who are ready, willing and able to get involved in my campaign is truly humbling,” he tweeted as his candidacy was confirmed.

Longford County Council also held a special meeting on Tuesday to vote to nominate a candidate for the election. Instead, Longford councillors decided against nominating a candidate after only one hopeful showed up to address them.

Mr Casey is now the third Dragons’ Den entrepreneur along with Sean Gallagher and Gavin Duffy to run for president. However, he faces strong competition from the incumbent Michael D Higgins, who is currently leading the polls.

Sinn Fein unveiled Liadh Ni Riada as its candidate at the weekend.

The sixth candidate is mental health activist Senator Joan Freeman.

Mr Casey runs global recruitment firm Claddagh Resources. It operates from five locations across the world, including its European base in Buncrana, Co Donegal. He divides his time between Atlanta in the US and Ireland.

Speaking previously about his campaign to be president, Mr Casey said he was not running to lose and was prepared to spend up to 750,000 euro (£665,000).

According to polls, Mr Higgins is heading for a landslide victory.

The Red C opinion poll published in the Sunday Business Post put the current president at 67% support.

Businessman and presidential runner-up in 2011 Mr Gallagher came second at 15%, ahead of fellow Dragons’ Den star Mr Duffy at 6%.

In third place, 7% chose Ms Ni Riada, who was unveiled as Sinn Fein’s candidate on Sunday.

Mr Higgins, 77, can nominate himself as an independent candidate for another seven years in office.

However, he has secured the backing of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, who have agreed not to field candidates from their own parties.

Mr Gallagher, the 56-year-old businessman and former Dragons’ Den star from Ballyhaise, Co Cavan, finished second in the 2011 presidential election and is tipped for another runner-up position.

He won the backing of Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim and Wexford councils, and was the first independent candidate to secure a nomination.

Mr Duffy, 58, will run as an independent candidate after securing his nomination by winning the backing of Waterford, Meath, Carlow and Wicklow councils.

Ms Freeman, the independent member of the Irish Seanad, psychologist and mental health activist from Dublin, earned the backing of Galway City Council as well as Galway County, Fingal and Cork County councils.

Nominations must be submitted by September 26 and the election will be held on October 26.

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