Uachtarán Na hEireann; Mrs Mary McAleese is coming to the end of her second term as president and must retire from her position. So we are faced with a hugely expensive presidential election next year most likely to decide between a motley collection of over the hill self-important windbags from various parties. In the past we have generally been presented with a list of political candidates run primarily to gain political bragging rights.
The role is primarily a symbolic one with limited powers and no real input into the creation of legislation. Traditionally it has been regarded somewhat of a retirement home for elderly politicians, although to their credit both Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese have redefined the role and made it more relevant to the people.
If we are to continue with this hugely expensive charade perhaps it is time we identified candidates who would be deserving of such an honour rather than using it as an expensive retirement home. Why not give it to an apolitical figure who has contributed handsomely to the country in which we live? Why not avoid all political candidates altogether? Why not give the role real meaning?
One such figure springs to my mind. I should state at the outset that I have never met Roy Collins but I very much admire his courage in the face of overwhelming adversity. He and his family stood up for what is right and paid a very heavy price. They lost their son who was murdered for obeying the law and standing up to criminals. He was murdered for doing the right thing. Today the Collins family are under 24-hour protection as their lives are also under a very real threat for their courageous stand.
We must live by certain laws which ensure that we all enjoy our constitutional and civil rights, the most basic of which is the right to life and liberty. This is a basic fundamental right of living in a democratic republic. There exist certain elements in our society that would wish to deny each of us this right to further their own nefarious aims. That they are willing to use extreme violence to do so is testament to their willingness to undermine everything that this country stands for. The Collins family see the evidence of this every time they visit their son’s grave.
We are all in debt to the Collins family. They have given everything to stand up for what is right. They have been to hell and back just to demand their and our right to live their lives. In this regard they represent each of us with immense courage in their personal solitary stand against those who would undermine everything we all stand for.
We should be honoured to have someone of the calibre of Roy Collins as our president. He stands for all that is good and courageous in our society and in human nature. An appointment such as this would make a powerful statement on so many different levels. It would clearly state that our society will not be sacrificed for the illegal and immoral enrichment of a few. The protection of his family would also be secured. We owe this man a great debt. His son was murdered because he tried to do what is right. That is a debt we can never pay but we could in a symbolic way acknowledge the sacrifice and honour his son’s memory.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “ If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name”. The Collins family took a stand in a war and paid the ultimate price. I never met the man and am saddened that I know his name for in a time of peace I would never have heard of him.
Roy Collins is a real life hero who never looked for a reward. All he ever wanted was to live a happy family life. It is only fitting that our president should be a heroic figure. So let us honour a real hero for a change because we have enough windbags in elected office. We owe the Collins family that and so much more.