Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality has said election candidates who plan to reject a presidential salary demean the dignity of the office.
Charlie Flanagan’s comments come in response to new contender Peter Casey’s remark that he would not take a wage should he be elected on October 26.
The Derry-born Dragons’ Den investor became the 11th potential candidate to challenge President Michael D Higgins.
Fellow Dragons’ Den stars Sean Gallagher, who was runner-up to Mr Higgins in 2011, and Gavin Duffy have already declared their intentions to seek a nomination.
Speaking on RTE after announcing his candidacy, Mr Casey said: “With all the expenses the President doesn’t need a salary at all.”
Speaking at the opening of the new Kevin Street Garda Station in Dublin, Mr Flanagan said the notion of rejecting a salary was demeaning to the office of head of state.
“I’ve been a long-time supporter of Michael D Higgins, and I want to acknowledge his great performance as president.
“He is a great ambassador for Ireland, and an inspiration to the young people at home.
“One of the candidates has said that they would not take the salary – that demeans the office of president.
“I look forward to a robust presidential campaign, but I and Fine Gael fully support Michael D Higgins and no other candidate in the contest.”
When asked if Ireland is seeing the ‘Trump effect’, as a number of businessmen have thrown their hats in the ring for the presidency, Mr Flanagan said the contest was open to anyone.
“The democratic process is open to anyone to put their names forward.
“The presidential election campaign should be conducted with dignity and a sense of office, of what is a very important role, which has been performed in exemplary fashion by our current president who I hope is reelected,” he said.
“It is a matter for the people to decide in October, but I look forward to an active campaign.”