Independent Presidential candidate Joan Freeman has strongly defended a €120,000 loan given to her by the Irish-born US-based businessman Des Walsh.

The Independent senator said that the loan has allowed her to participate in the campaign and the fact that it was a loan maintains her independence.

Mr Walsh's company Herbalife had to pay a $200m settlement to the US Federal Trade Commission amid accusations of pyramid selling.

At the launch of her campaign today, Ms Freeman said she did not have to do a background check on Mr Walsh's company before accepting the loan because he was "a good man".

Ms Freeman said this loan comes from Mr Walsh's personal funds and his company was not something she discussed with him when they spoke for the first time in 40 years, earlier this year.

She said that she was not able to get a loan from any bank or credit institution here and will seek to repay Mr Walsh's loan over ten years or longer.


Ms Freeman said that her campaign would focus on empowering people to make a difference in their communities.

She said it was the job of others to create employment and to shorten waiting lists, but added that the Office of the President had symbolic power.

The founder of Pieta House said that if she was elected she would hold an Annual Day of Wellness in Áras an Uachtaráin to highlight the benefits of good physical and mental health.

She also vowed to give young people a voice on the Council of State.