An entrepreneur is somebody who makes money by spotting ideas and taking chances. By this definition, at least, Sean Gallagher is absolutely an entrepreneur, though not for the reasons you might think.
Sean’s previous entrepreneurial experience seems to be fairly light. He set up one company, which he is no longer involved with, and apart from that, he seems to have spent most of his time working for Fianna Fáil or sitting on boards of quangos as a Fianna Fáil nominee.
In his spare time, he presents himself as a businessman on the semi-fictional entertainment show, Dragon’s Den, though there seems to be no evidence in real life of this business gift he keeps talking about — indeed, we’re told he currently lives on €200 a week, which isn’t a whole lot for a Dragon, wouldn’t you think? How on earth does he buy into the schemes of competitors when he’s living barely above the dole himself?
Seán’s educational background seems to be equally light, and he seems remarkable coy about his schooling, for reasons best known to himself. Maybe he doesn’t want people to find out he has precisely the same qualifications as Bertie Ahern. For all I know, they were even at the LSE together, delivering that pizza.
Seán’s website is revealing. It claims that he was was the co-founder of Smarthomes, but of course, Seán is no longer associated with this loss-making venture. Apart from that he claims to have built up a successful business presence in Ireland, but he doesn’t specify exactly what that might entail.
As an entrepreneur for over a decade, the website says, Seán has helped to mentor other budding entrepreneurs through RTE’s successful Dragons’ Den (sic) and through his work with County Enterprise Boards and Chambers of Commerce around the country.
But on what basis does he hold these roles apart from possessing a brass neck? He appears to have almost no track record of successful trade, and yet, county enterprise boards — publicly-funded bodies — are hiring him to advise people about setting up in business.
Why would a public body engage a man with a negligible degree of business success to guide budding entrepreneurs? I can’t understand this.
Now, nobody is suggesting that Seán got these gigs through his Fianna Fáil connections, but the optics are bad and besides, there are plenty of political hacks around the country who got similar handy jobs by political influence, so people could hardly be blamed for asking tough questions.
However, if an entrepreneur is one who spots a good idea and takes a chance, the current presidential campaign may be his master stroke. If he can convince the electorate that he just accidentally happened to find himself on the Fianna Fáil national executive, that he never saw the inside of the Galway Tent, that he wouldn’t know Bertie Ahern from Lady Gaga and that he isn’t in reality still embedded in the FF machine up to his oxters, Seán collects the biggest prize of all. Seven, perhaps fourteen, years free of money worries, living in chauffeured luxury with almost no real work to do, no responsibility and few obligations.
In return for this sinecure, Seán must try not to use the wrong fork at State dinners and refrain from tucking the tablecloth into his shirt collar.
Meanwhile, Mrs Dragon has informed the media that if Seán is elected, she’d like to be the first First Spouse to start a family in the Big House. Too much information, in my opinion, but there you go. Different strokes, if you’ll forgive the expression. It’ll be just like having our very own Posh ‘n’ Becks. Come in, Áras, yer dinner is poured out.
Of course, if the people of Ireland elect a Fianna Fáil hack as president, a person who was deeply involved with this party while it was actively selling our country down the river, you would have to wonder what is wrong with us.
Are we a nation of masochists, or are we just idiots?
According to the P60 he published recently, Seán Gallagher earned a total of €12,133.32 in 2010. I would have thought a man who touts himself as a hugely successful entrepreneur would do slightly better than €240 a week, wouldn’t you? Especially since his gigantic business success is one of the main planks of his campaign.
Now we know the truth: this isn’t a presidential campaign for Sean. It’s the world’s most public application for social housing.