Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher will not participate in debates that do not include all the candidates contesting the Presidential Election.

Mr Gallagher has said it is crucial that all candidates are treated equally and that debates should include all candidates.

It comes ahead of RTÉ Radio's News at One debate next Thursday, which Mr Gallagher has declined to attend.

President Michael D Higgins has said he cannot attend that debate due to a prior engagement.

Speaking in Dublin earlier today, Mr Gallagher said: "Let's deal with all of that. I'm sure that the lessons learned from this [News At One] debate will influence how and when the debates are scheduled."

Mr Gallagher said the President's website had clearly indicated that he had a prior engagement.

Mr Gallagher called on the media "to ensure all candidates are available" before scheduling such debates, arguing the Office of the President, the incumbent and the electorate must be respected. 

He told journalists: 'I'm ready, willing and able .... in fact excited... to be taking part in all of the debates."

However, he refused to directly respond to criticism from presidential candidate Peter Casey over his decision not to appear on the News At One, Mr Gallagher said: "I will only ever be involved in positive campaigning."   

Asked about the Irish language, Mr Gallagher said he was "passionate about the Irish language and understand and recognise the important role it plays in our heritage and culture". 

He added that he would be "outlining initiatives" in the coming weeks on the language which would be for not just those people who are fluent, but also those, like him, who would like to be "more proficient".

Mr Gallagher was at the Custom House in Dublin to hand in his nomination papers, telling reporters that it was a "very important day" for both him and his wife, Trish.

Mr Gallagher was accompanied by his two children.

Meanwhile, RTÉ has responded to a call by Mr Gallagher on the media to "ensure all candidates are available" before scheduling such debates. 

In a statement, RTÉ said its staff had been in contact with all candidate campaign teams since early September.

It pointed out that while Thursday's News at One debate will happen from 1.00pm - 1.55pm, the President's diary only had engagements listed for 11am and 2.30pm.

The News at One debate is going ahead as planned, and RTÉ said it continues to welcome all candidates to participate.

Additional Reporting: Paul Cunningham