A number of presidential candidates have clashed over the President’s salary during their first debate of the election campaign.
Four of the six Presidential candidates took part in the live radio debate in their first full day of campaigning.
Businessmen Gavin Duffy and Peter Casey, Sinn Fein’s Liadh Ni Riada and Senator Joan Freeman were grilled over a number of issues including the President’s salary, the HPV vaccine and US President Donald Trump.
Other candidate President Michael D Higgins was unable to attend the debate because of prior commitments, while Sean Gallagher said he would not attend any debate that does not include all candidates.
During the debate it was revealed that Ms Freeman has received a funding loan of 130,000 euro from two separate donors, while Ms Ni Riada rejected claims she is opposed to the HPV vaccine.
Mr Duffy spoke of his youth core programme which he described as a “great idea”.
“I believe an international youth core for 18-25-year-olds, who would do three months of service at home in their community and then they volunteer abroad.”
He said he is paying for his campaign from a loan and, if elected, he would take the full salary of the president.
“I suggested that problems that are in community can be solved in the community,” she said.
She added that a task-force would be set up in each community which could identify problems and come up with solutions, however she rejected suggestions it would duplicate local authority roles.
She also revealed that Des Walsh, a retired businessman from Los Angeles, has given her a loan of 120,000 euro but said she does not have permission to reveal the identity of the other donor.
Ms Ni Riada rejected claims she is opposed to the HPV vaccine, saying that she raised concerns about the “lack of information”.
“I am fully in favour of the vaccine.”
Mr Duffy said he did not agree with other candidates saying they would not take the full salary after Mr Casey said he would donate his salary to charity.
Mr Casey added: “I believe the President should be paid a salary but I don’t believe it should be anywhere as large as it is and as large as Gavin claims that he needs to keep him in the lifestyle which he is accustomed to.
“I am fortunate enough that I don’t need the salary so every month I would give it to a council to distribute it to a charity.”
Ms Freeman said she would take the full salary and donate a portion of it to help start initiatives within communities.
Ms Ni Riada said she would take a ministerial salary and the rest would go back into the Exchequer.
Mr Casey was asked what he would say to Mr Trump if and when he visited Ireland.
Mr Casey replied: “The President has to welcome any guest of the government to Ireland, I would obviously welcome him.
“I would welcome him to Ireland because the government has asked me to.”
Mr Casey later defended his remarks adding that it was his personal view of Mr Trump and that he would still give him a “warm Irish welcome”.
Ms Freeman said that, if elected, she would welcome him as President, while Ms Ni Riada said she would question his “ridiculous hair”.
Mr Casey later claimed that Mr Higgins’ presidential commitments and appearances have dropped by 42% in a number of years adding that if he continues that way he will be “taking a stroll around the park once a week”.