Tried and tested - Michael D wins the race

It is reassuring the people of Ireland have elected Michael D Higgins as our President for another seven years.

The result was an overwhelming mandate for the Michael D and ageism, reinforcing that this election was one in favour of the incumbent President, and not one against the other candidates.

So we now have a President, not elected by default, and one who represents what this country wants. Just how it should be.

Despite some spurious attacks on his selection of canine pets or expenses incurred in the role, the other candidates could find little to criticise. Every president to date has incurred expenses in the role, but it has never been an issue until this year. Voters could assume such candidates were grasping at straws.

With no political role, the President of Ireland is unlike that of many countries, but is perhaps more similar to that of a Governor General in Commonwealth countries - a person who has extensive experience in governance to provide constitutional, ceremonial, international and community leadership, and to ensure the legitimacy of government.

Michael D has shown a respect for the office, an ability to connect with all communities, while also encompassing all that Irish people love - a sense of fairness, a love for the literature, a love of sport, a history of service, and an innate understanding and ability in matters of state and diplomacy needed to fulfil the role, and that must continue for Ireland to retain its legitimacy.

As the first incumbent to face the re-election process, it is a vote that gives credence to his mandate seven years ago and his performance in office since then. However, there will be some testing times ahead and lessons to be learned, particularly from businessman Peter Casey whose criticism of Travellers has been attributed to his increase in support from two percent to 23 per cent on polling day.

If anything, Peter Casey has exposed a chasm in Irish society that needs to be dealt with, while the RTÉ exit poll showed more than one in three voters felt the office of the President was not providing value for money.

President Higgins on his re-election said: "People have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they prefer... I will be a President for all of the people."

What is positive is this country voted for a person who is neither unpredictable nor inflammatory. And, in Ireland, certainly a man who knows how to close an umbrella.

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