The first question we need to ask ourselves before we hit the polling booths on October 27 is, what do we want from our president?
Do we want someone who is versed in all things constitutional, or simply a good ambassador, or a businessman or woman who seeks to improve the economic climate in this country?
When we decide we must also be sure that the candidate of our choosing will have the power to enact the changes that he or she seeking. You might find in a lot of cases they won’t.
There is no real stand-out candidate, and the presidential seven have their work cut out over the next month if they are to imprint their qualities on the Irish electorate who, let’s face it, are more cynical politically than the last time we were asked to elect a president.
I did some unscientific research this week to find out what the Mayo electorate want. One person said: “Sure they won’t have any power to do anything. We need a good diplomat who will create good relations with other countries. As far as I can see that’s what a president does. They’re a good diplomat.” A second person, who claimed to have few thoughts on the matter, added: “All they do is meet people at the end of the day. A good talker. That’s what they do at the end of the day — open things. They have to be empathetic and sympathetic”. Another wants a candidate who will stand up to international scrutiny: “When we look at him or her we want to see someone who embodies what Ireland is about. No way can they affect change in this country because their role is limited. It’s more of a statesman like role — they need to relate easily to people, regardless of who they are.”
Basically what our ‘survey’ found was that the electorate are looking for a good ambassador, with substance and style, who won’t embarrass us on an international stage.
But who fits the bill?
Dana told Miriam O’Callaghan on Wednesday night she wasn’t stupid. That’s reassuring. Basically she’s the Constitution personified. Lucky for Martin McGuinness he had reporters to blame for all his failings. If it says it in the paper it must be true. But if they don’t find out about ‘it’ that doesn’t mean ‘it’ isn’t true either Martin. Mary Davis is ‘completely independent’ despite all her political appointments to boards. But then she has the experience of serving on the Council of State since 2004, which has given her a real insight into the role of president. Gay Mitchell couldn’t say what he’d do if third level fees are re-introduced, but he did try to tell us how hard it was for him to get into third level. Apparently only people whose parents can afford outside tuition meet the required points for third level courses. That doesn’t say much for the majority of second level students who don’t need grinds, and their teachers who work tirelessly to prepare them for the Leaving Cert. According to David Norris the political commentators underestimated the Irish electorate, and the content of those controversial letters might show him up in a good light, but we’ll never know. Sean Gallagher isn’t a Fianna Fáil candidate. He resigned from the party’s national executive in 2009. Admirably he wants to give people the dignity of work. But how? Michael D, the statesman, the poet, has the experience to represent Ireland with imagination and courage.
I think a lot more research is needed until we find out who will truly best represent Ireland in its highest office. Next stop the Late Late Show Friday night, where the