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Who are the five candidates vying for Ireland’s presidency?

President Michael D Higgins at a one-day conference to formally launch the DCU Brexit Institute at The Helix, DCU. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Five candidates are in the mix for next month’s presidential election in Ireland.

Liadh Ni Riada:

Liadh Ni Riada was unveiled as Sinn Fein’s chosen candidate on Sunday. She was hot favourite for the nomination ever since the party signalled its intent to run.

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The former television producer from Dublin is the daughter of legendary Irish trad musician and composer Sean O Riada.

Ms Ni Riada entered the political arena in 2011 by joining Sinn Fein.

She was elected in 2014 as one of her party’s four MEPs on the island of Ireland, representing the South constituency.

The 52-year-old is the youngest of the five confirmed candidates and one of two women in the race.

In the European Parliament, she has been a vocal advocate for the Irish fishing industry, and critical of the Common Fisheries Policy – arguing the Irish have not received their fair share of the fishing quota.

Before her political career, Ms Ni Riada served on the board tasked with setting up Ireland’s Irish language television channel, TG4.

She ran her own production company for several years, and has been an advocate of the Irish language.

Ms Ni Riada currently lives in the Muskerry Gaeltacht, an Irish speaking area of Co Cork.

Michael D Higgins has announced his intention to run for a second term as president Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

Michael D Higgins:

The sitting President, 77, was born in Limerick and had an academic career in the 1960s-70s, teaching sociology in Ireland and the United States.

He entered the political arena in the late 1960s, joining the Labour Party and served as a senator in the 1980s before representing Galway West in the Dail from 1987 to 2011.

Mr Higgins is a fluent Irish speaker and served as minister for arts, culture and the Gaeltacht in the 1990s.

He is also a published poet and has presented TV documentaries.

Mr Higgins was first elected president in 2011 after running as an independent candidate.

He made history in 2014 when he became the first Irish President to undertake an official state visit to the UK.

Earlier this year, he welcomed Pope Francis to Ireland – the first papal visit in almost 40 years.

As the current president, Mr Higgins is able to nominate himself as an independent candidate for another seven years in office.

However, he has secured the backing of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, who have agreed not to field candidates from their own parties.

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher came second in the 2011 election Credit: Niall Carson/PA

Sean Gallagher:

The 56-year-old businessman and former Dragons’ Den star from Ballyhaise, County Cavan, finished second in the 2011 Irish presidential election.

He secured more than half a million first preference votes, but lost out to Mr Higgins.

Mr Gallagher has described himself as coming from the “Fianna Fail gene pool”, but is running as an independent.

In 2002 he co-founded Smarthomes, a home technology business.

The company won numerous awards for innovation, and Mr Gallagher was a finalist in the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year contest.

Mr Gallagher became a public figure during his time as an investor on RTE One’s Dragons’ Den from 2008 to 2011.

Last year, State broadcaster RTE apologised to Mr Gallagher over a fake tweet read out during a live TV debate during the last election campaign.

The tweet, which accused Mr Gallagher of collecting funds for Fianna Fail, was purported to be from an official account linked to the late Martin McGuinness, who also ran for president in 2011.

However, it later emerged the account was not the official campaign account of the Sinn Fein candidate. Mr Gallagher had been leading some opinion polls in the 2011 race prior to the tweet furore in the closing stages of the campaign.

Mr Gallagher won the backing of Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim and Wexford councils, and was the first independent candidate to secure a nomination.

Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy is well known for his role as an investor in the Irish version of Dragons’ Den Credit: Niall Carson/PA

Gavin Duffy:

The entrepreneur and businessman from Sallins, Co Kildare, is best known for his role on the RTE programme Dragons’ Den.

Mr Duffy, 58, started his career as a shareholder in radio stations, and in 1992 he co-founded a media and management consultancy.

He is the former owner of HRM, one of Ireland’s largest recruitment companies.

His early career in the media included presenting the first RTE television business programme, Marketplace; broadcasting on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One, and founding regional radio station LMFM.

Later, Mr Duffy became a serial entrepreneur and is now a veteran of over 40 start-ups.

His venture capital portfolio has been concentrated on recruitment, professional development, education and media.

He has been a panellist on the Irish version of Dragons’ Den for all eight seasons since the show began in 2009.

Mr Duffy has worked in the past as an adviser to both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

He has said he would accept the full presidential salary of 350,000 euro.

The current President, Michael D Higgins, has voluntarily reduced his own salary to under 250,000 euro while in office.

Mr Duffy will run as an independent candidate after securing his nomination by winning the backing of Waterford, Meath, Carlow and Wicklow councils.

Senator Joan Freeman is a mental health activist Credit: Niall Carson/PA

Joan Freeman:

The independent member of the Irish Seanad is a psychologist and mental health activist from Dublin.

Senator Freeman has served on the Seanad since May 2016 after being nominated by the then taoiseach Enda Kenny. She is the chairperson on the committee on mental health.

The 60-year-old founded Pieta House, a suicide intervention charity, in 2006 in Lucan, County Dublin. It now boasts 12 additional centres around Ireland.

Senator Freeman also founded the annual fundraising event Darkness into Light in aid of Pieta House.

The event began with 400 participants in 2008 and has since grown with approximately 200,000 people participating in the 2018 events held across Ireland, including at the Phoenix Park.

She resigned from Pieta House in 2014, in order to concentrate on developing Solace House, a similar charity based in New York City launched in 2015.

Senator Freeman will run as an independent candidate. She earned the backing of Galway City Council as well as Galway County, Fingal and Cork County councils.