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Wednesday, October 29, 1997 Published at 16:03 GMT

World: Europe

Derek Nally - an arresting candidate

Derek Nally...only man in the race

Derek Nally, a 60-year-old former policeman, is the only male candidate in the five-strong field bidding for the Irish presidency. As a consequence it seems possible that he could benefit from a 'sympathy vote' from some men.

In fact, it was only at the 11th hour that voters were given any male candidate to choose from when Mr Nally finally secured the nominations of Wexford, Clare, Carlow, Kildare and South Dublin County Councils.

Only days before Brendan McGahon, a self-confessed male chauvinist from Dundalk, told the Irish Times: "I'm a little miffed that this election is being fought by four women. I don't think that's a healthy sign."

But Mr Nally is no chauvinist and has not entered the race simply to represent his gender. He says: "I don't think I fit easily into any sociological, political or philosophical pigeon-hole.

"In some sense, I'm old fashioned. I'm still the kind of man who holds doors open for women.

"But, in another sense, I think I'm the kind of man who recognises that today's self-confident woman opens doors of opportunity for herself."

A former detective sergeant in the Garda Siochana, founder of the Irish Association for Victim Support and former General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, he is clearly the `law and order' candidate.

But, as he is well aware, the presidency is not an active, executive position so the Republic of Ireland's criminals need not quake in their boots at the thought of Mr Nally being elected to the Aras an Uachtarain, the presidential office in Phoenix Park.

Born in County Tipperary in 1936, he joined the Garda at the age of 21 and after promotion to sergeant spent two years in the press office before a spell as a Detective Sergeant.

He retired in 1987 and became a security consultant and successful businessman, building up a chain of companies specialising in private investigations, security and emergency monitoring systems for the elderly and disabled.

Mr Nally also has good environmental credentials - he has been actively involved in the management of the River Slaney in County Wexford, close to his home in Bunclody, for several years and his efforts have been partly responsible for burgeoning salmon stocks.

He has a wife, Joan, and two grown-up daughters. Mr Nally describes himself as a "constituent nationalist in the tradition of Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera."

He goes on to say: "My agenda for this island is to foster good relations between the Republic and Northern Ireland, particularly in emphasising to people of the unionist tradition the tolerance and pluralism which are the hallmarks of the Republic."

However, Mr Nally faces a stiff task in the election. The latest opinion polls put him some way behind the leading candidates Mary McAleese and Mary Banotti.

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