Great craic on the presidential hustings
Deaglán de Bréadún
Let’s hope this talk about reducing the presidential term to five years in the proposed Constitutional Convention is for real. The last presidential election was 14 years ago but the current one is very interesting or, if we broadsheet journos weren’t expected to be so snooty, I would say, “great craic”.
Look at the variety of the candidates. Even without Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú and assuming that it is safe to say David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon don’t get nominated (which it isn’t until Wednesday of next week, at least in Norris’s case), we are still spoilt for choice.
If you want Labour, we’ll give you Michael D. Higgins; if it’s Fine Gael you’re after, meet Gay Mitchell; and if republicanism is to your taste, then you might want to consider Martin McGuinness.
And let’s not forget by any means the Independent contenders, Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher , who have been tilling the unploughed field of presidential candidacy for months now. But sorry, Fianna Fail is off the menu at this time.
Don’t even think of predicting the result at this early stage and don’t put any money down with the bookies unless you get odds so good they simply can’t be ignored.
Higgins appears to be the frontrunner at present although Mitchell is a formidable campaigner. The McGuinness candidacy has raised public interest enormously on both sides of the Border but it is impossible to predict at this stage how his campaign will develop.
Davis has been cleaning up on the county council front and, at last count, a total of 12 had given her a nomination. Gallagher is another indefatigable campaigner and the pair of them have been criss-crossing the State at a rate of knots.
Can’t wait for the television debates – there will surely be more than one? And will we have a debate in Irish this time – the last one in the general election was a big success but I am not sure about the level of fluency among the presidential candidates. Michael D yes, but the others … ?
Quite apart from all the rhetoric about the future of the country, etc., etc., the next five weeks should also be quite entertaining. Sit back and enjoy.
As Bertie Ahern would say: “See you on the hustlings (sic).”
Oh, and I’m not playing down the importance of such issues as McGuinness’s paramilitary past. If you want my more serious “take” on the presidency, see http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0827/1224303061204.html