The Voice Of A Generation

#TrendsterAras18 Presidential Interview Series: Sean Gallagher


The #TrendsterAras18 Presidential Interview Series aims to help better inform young voters ahead of the Irish Presidential Election on Friday, October 26th. We have requested interviews with each of the six presidential candidates and have set out a list of eight questions which we believe will offer young people more of an insight into each of the presidential hopefuls.

The first candidate to accept our interview request was Sean Gallagher. I sat down to speak with Sean during his visit to University College Cork.

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In your opinion, what do you believe sets you apart from the other candidates?
  • 1. Why did do you decide to run for the Presidency?
  • 2. In your opinion, what do you believe sets you apart from the other candidates?
  • 3. What do you understand the Presidents role to be in a modern Ireland?
  • 4. Can the President implement any substantial changes on issues affecting young people in Ireland or is the role restricted? If so should this be changed?
  • 5. Over the last number of years, we have seen some substantial social changes in Ireland, two of the most notable would be gay marriage and the removal of the 8th amendment, many would agree that these changes were driven by younger voters wanting a better Ireland. As President is there any further social change that you would like to champion?
  • 6. There has been much discussion in the last year around lowering the voting to sixteen, what are your views?
  • 7. If elected as President and you could invite anybody over to Aras an Uachtaráin for tea, who would be your first choice?
  • 8. If given the opportunity, what one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

2. In your opinion, what do you believe sets you apart from the other candidates?

I think it’s about change, it’s about a desire to make change, it’s about a desire to lead change, and… I have a saying with regard to youth leadership, community leadership, even business leadership, that leadership is not about, in any role, the purpose of leadership in any role is not about creating more followers, its about developing more leaders. I was in a class yesterday, sixth class for the school were our little fella Bobby goes to school, in Wicklow, and an eleven-year-old said to me, “when did you think you’d ever be President?”, and I said, you’re eleven, do you think you could ever be president? and I said to him, I hope that my being here that it will give an inspiration that if you ever wanted to be president, that you would feel that their is that capability their for you, and sometimes… you cannot be what you cannot see, you have to have someone tell you that, and if you want people to be great you have to show them what great looks like, and you have to show them that’s possible… and so there’s a leadership piece there, but there’s also… I’m optimistic by nature, I want to see the problem and I want to assess it, but I want to find solutions, and I want to see a strategy looking forward and seeing how do we bring Ireland, how do we bring our people with us, how do we create that, but ultimately it’s driven by a sense of self-determination… I do not believe we are passive recipients in life, I believe we are self-determined, that our future our future doesn’t happen to us, it is in fact created by us, so everything that is created, from a start-up business to a community group, anything, starts in somebody’s mind as an idea and they then have to work really hard to convince others to engage, to evangelise about that and ultimately a team comes together and change happens, but we have to be able to step out, we have to give people the courage to become leaders in their own communities, and that’s the example I want to set, and I also think that it’s the diversity of my background, a lot of people see me as a businessman… but of course I started in agriculture and farming, I started and then had a car crash and I change having been working with Foroige as a youth leader having set up a  youth club, I became a professional youth worker, I worked with the national youth council of Ireland, and I wrote the governments first alcohol education programme for young people, more than five thousand youth leaders trained, collaboration between myself and hundred professionals, teachers, alcohol addiction councillors, voluntary organisations such as AA, understanding the effects of alcohol and alcohol abuse, but also understanding what the skills for young people were required in order for them not to get caught up in abuse of anything, and those skills and those booklet I wrote were on self-esteem, decision making, assertiveness, relationship building, how we deal with building relationships, maintaining them, and dealing with their breakup, how we view ourselves, how we value ourselves, and that’s ultimately what’s at the heart of all of this, so for me it’s youthwork, it’s disability, I’m an advocate for people with disabilities, I grew up with a vision impairment, so for me I don’t want my life to be defined by limitations, I want my life to be defined by my strengths, and my abilities, not my disabilities, and that’s the message I have for everybody else, and the business of being a champion for almost twenty five years now for SMEs, not because it’s about money , but it’s because SMEs create jobs all across the country in places where multinationals never can, and that’s what sustains communities, when we have jobs for people living in those communities.

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