7 July 1962 |
County Cavan, Ireland
|Political party||Independent (2010–present)|
|Fianna Fáil (until 2011)|
|Spouse(s)||Irene McCausland (m. 1997 div. 1999)
Trish Gallagher (m. 2010)
Seán Gallagher (born 7 July 1962), is an Irish entrepreneur, businessman and 2011 presidential candidate from County Cavan, Ireland. He is the founder of the company Smarthomes and has featured as a panellist on RTÉ's Dragons' Den. In 2009, he won Charity Lords of the Ring. He came second in the 2011 Irish presidential election in which he stood as an independent candidate.
Gallagher grew up in a family of six in Ballyhaise, County Cavan. Both his parents are deceased. His father John Gallagher came from a farming background in Killygordon, County Donegal, and his mother Anne (née Bracken) Gallagher from Tullamore, County Offaly where her family ran a local store. He was visually impaired from birth as a result of congenital cataracts. He later had corrective surgery which improved his sight.
Gallagher was educated at Ballyhaise National School and St. Patrick's College, Cavan. He struggled with study during his early years as a result of his sight but credits his former headmaster, Tom Gawley, with giving him the confidence and determination to succeed and never to allow his limitations to define him.
He was taught Latin and French by Seán Brady, who is now the primate of all Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh. Following his Leaving Certificate in 1980, he attended Teagasc Agricultural College, Ballyhaise, County Cavan.
In his late teens he got his first taste of youth work when he helped set up and became Chair of his local Foroige Youth Club. He also set up and become Chair of the Agriculture College’s Macra na Feirme club for young farmers. It was around this time that Gallagher first became involved in Fianna Fáil. In 1985, he went to NUI Maynooth where he studied the first professional course in Youth and Community Development workers in Ireland.
Gallagher married Irene McCausland in 1997, they divorced in 1999. In 2010 he married Patricia O'Connor.
He later worked with young people from the travelling community, young offenders and young people with disabilities. He was the author of Drink Awareness for Young People (DAY), the Country’s first National Alcohol Education Programme for the Irish Youth service. This Train the Trainer Educational Programme helped equip youth leaders and teachers with the necessary skills to help young people avoid the misuse of alcohol.
In 1995 he moved to Dundalk in County Louth where he served as the A/ CEO of the Louth County Enterprise Board... His role was to promote and support the development of micro businesses including the provision of financial support, training and mentoring. As part of this role, he served as a Director of the Louth Tourism Company and Louth Leader Rural Development Agency.
In 2002, Gallagher founded Smarthomes a home technology business with his business partner Derek Roddy. The company went on to win numerous awards for innovation including the InterTradeIreland/Seedcorn competition in 2004 the Deloitte Fast 50 Award in 2005 and the Small Firms Association (SFA)Award 2005. Gallagher himself was a finalist in the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Programme.
He was later appointed a member of the board of the North / South Trade body, InterTradeIreland and the Drogheda Port Company where he also served as the Chair  In January 2010, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan appointed him to the board of Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS).
In 2008, Gallagher was announced as an investor on the RTÉ One version of Dragon's Den. He continued as an investor in the 2009 and 2010 and 2011 series. He also took part in the Charity Lords of the Ring series in 2009, representing the The National Council of the Blind and eventually went on to win the show.
Gallagher was a member of Fianna Fáil at different stages since his teens and served for short periods on the party’s national executive, first representing the interests of the youth wing of the party where he advanced the need for better youth services and facilities for young people and later when he represented grass roots members in his adopted county of Louth.
2011 presidential campaign
In May 2011, The Sunday Business Post reported that he was likely to seek a nomination in the 2011 Irish presidential election. The Irish Times subsequently reported that in addition to seeking the support of independents, he was approaching Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members to run as an independent candidate, but with a "semi-detached" relationship with the party.
In a June 2011 poll conducted by the Irish League of Credit Unions he garnered 9% support placing him in third position behind David Norris (38%) and Michael D. Higgins (10%). He received the fourth and final nomination of a local council, thus becoming a candidate for the 2011 presidential election. He handed in his nomination papers on the morning of 27 September 2011.
On 3 October 2011, The Irish Times reported that, since 2008, Gallagher had been given €41,550 after being appointed to various State boards by Fianna Fáil ministers. He was also appointed as a director of FÁS in 2010. Gallagher later stated that any monies he had received from his work on State Boards had been given to a number of charities working in the health and disability area.
Although Gallagher was a previous member of Fianna Fáil, in a statement made by the candidate he stated he abhorred many of the decisions made by the previous government. Initially reluctant to criticise Fianna Fáil during the Prime Time debate, Gallagher stated the following day that "the party had moved away from the grassroots".
On 27 September 2011 Gallagher announced he was not going to be using lamp post posters throughout his election campaign, in an effort to save taxpayers money and keeping in the spirit of the tidy towns initiative. He widely used advertising spots in shopping centres.
Gallagher adopted the use of social media in his campaign as an alternative to posters. He used social media websites in an effort to engage with his audience. Out of the election candidates, he had the highest number of followers on Facebook and second highest on Twitter.
Gallagher topped a poll with 39%, according to a Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post on 16 October 2011.
Gallagher topped two polls the weekend before the presidential election, which included the Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll and the Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll. In these polls, Gallagher received 40% and 38% respectively. An ESRI Ireland poll for Newstalk on 24 October in the wake of their radio debate put Gallagher in joint second place, on 20%, with Michael D. Higgins leading, on 38%.
Gallagher's campaign suffered a setback on 24 October when, in the last televised debate before the election, he stumbled when answering a question on whether or not he collected a cheque for €5,000 from someone he later described as a "convicted criminal and fuel smuggler", for a Fianna Fáil fundraiser event which gave access to the Taoiseach. The donation was later revealed to be from businessman Hugh Morgan. Gallagher subsequently denied collecting a cheque from Morgan.
Gallagher denied suggestions he received a large loan of €80,000 from Beach House Training and Consulting, in apparent breach of company law. He later said the transfer of the money was "an accounting mistake".
Gallagher received 28.5% of first preference votes in the election, leaving him in second place behind Michael D. Higgins.
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