Whelan denies conflict of interest over article


Whelan denies conflict of interest over article

Noel Whelan. Picture: David Conachy
Noel Whelan. Picture: David Conachy

Barrister Noel Whelan set out his vision for the presidency in his newspaper column at a time when he was considering a tilt for Áras an Uachtaráin.

The columnist for ‘The Irish Times‘ wrote on July 13 that some of those aspiring to the office had not exhibited “any real understanding of its power and importance”.

However, he has denied any conflict of interest, saying that at the time his copy was filed he was not a serious contender.

Mr Whelan told the Irish Independent he worked with a team of people to assess his chances during an eight-week period between last December and February.

They concluded that there was little point in challenging Michael D Higgins. But Mr Whelan briefly flirted with the idea again earlier this month.

“There was a body of opinion that felt there should be an election, and neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil had a candidate so I took a view that it was worth considering again,” he said.

Around the same time, Mr Whelan, who is representing An Garda Síochána at the Disclosures Tribunal, wrote: “Knowing when to exercise or not to exercise the power to refer legislation to the Supreme Court before enactment or to refuse a dissolution to a Taoiseach who doesn’t have a Dáil majority requires careful judgment.”

Asked whether this was appropriate, Mr Whelan said: “I’d write the same piece next week. Those who are running need to set a vision.” Attempts to obtain a comment from ‘The Irish Times’ were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Senator Joan Freeman has written to a dozen local authorities asking them to speed up their nomination processes in order to give candidates a fair chance of challenging Michael D Higgins.

The founder of Pieta House warns that waiting until the summer break to convene special council meetings will make it difficult for potential candidates to put a campaign in place.

Ms Freeman notes that some local authorities have indicated they intend to wait until after the Government moves an electoral writ to hold a meeting. She says it would mean “prospective candidates’ hands are tied by the Government in progressing individual campaigns to compete in the presidential race”.

Irish Independent

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