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Is the man from Dragon's Den Ireland's next president?

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Many feel Mr. Gallagher represents Ireland's transformation in the past two decades, though supporters and opponents mean different things when they say that.

Cloudy sky

Gallagher's candidacy came under a cloud Monday, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, one of his opponents, claimed that Gallagher had fund-raised for the Fianna Fáil party.

Fianna Fáil, long the dominant political party in Irish life, failed to stand a candidate, such was the likelihood of humiliation at the polls. Many see Gallagher as a proxy candidate for a party that was trounced at the general election on February 25.

The allegations linking Gallagher to Fianna Fáil, along with questions about his business and accounting practices, were aired on a televised debate Monday. There hasn't been an opinion pol since, so it's difficult to tell if he has been damaged.

"I think the [real] winners, politically, will be Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin," said David Farrell, professor of politics at University College Dublin, saying many had written Fianna Fáil off and that a victory for Mr Gallagher would be a major coup for the party.

"[The] Labor [party] will come out pretty well, too," he said.

Gay Mitchell, candidate of the main governing party, the conservative Fine Gael, is trailing badly in opinion polls, likely to come fifth, a result that some feel could damage party morale.

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