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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 5, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    State of Play in Race for the Áras

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The presidential campaign is proving to be a great distraction from the cutbacks and other tough measures in preparation as part of the forthcoming Budget. The Government must be delighted.

    It is all very entertaining of course. If the well-known Trinity Senator fails to be elected, he can make an absolute fortune doing “An Evening with David Norris” tour around the country.

    Likewise, Dana could have a concert tour accompanied by a talk about her beliefs and values.

    Martin McGuinness has faced such a barrage of criticism about his IRA history that it would be highly surprising if he won the prize but Sinn Fein should enhance its overall political standing and make a further advance in its crusade to become the main opposition party.

    Independents  Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher have to be admired for their courage in standing without party support. They have brought a new dimension to the campaign, though it is hard at this stage to see them winning.

    That leaves Gay Mitchell and Michael D. Higgins. The Fine Gael contender has taken on the “attack dog” role and it will be interesting to see how this plays out on election day. He would  have been unconvincing in the role of a pussycat, it has to be said.

    Michael D. has adopted a more statesmanlike approach. He clearly knows the Constitution and the ins and outs of the President’s role very well from his work as a lecturer as well as his years in politics.

    Questions have been raised about his age and state of  physical health but he seems to be dealing with them fairly well. Provided he doesn’t lose the rag in an interview or have some other unhelpful experience on the campaign trail, he seems unstoppable. Labour minders are keeping a good eye on him, I hear!

    • Kynos says:

      Joke PResidenCy for a joke State and a joke society mar dhea. I’ll say no more on the matter. Getting too many posts ignored these days pearls b4 PoRCines an all that. Byee.

    • Would agree with you on Michael D., Deaglán, the presidency appears to be a role he has been preparing for, if not for his entire political life then for a large part of it. Fine Gael appears to have decided that Sinn Fein is its main opposition, hence the attacks directed at Martin McGuinness. Questions about the Sinn Fein man’s past need to be asked but I’m not sure if Gay Mitchell is the right man to ask them: his demeanour in the vicinity of McGuinness ends up generating sympathy for the Derry man.

    • @1: Sorry for my dismal failure to publish all of your multifarious and endless comments :-)

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Isn’t the depressing reality that none of the candidates offer anything new – they are all tainted by their pasts (some for more serious reasons than others) but then again the country they are aiming to be President of isn’t much to be proud of at the moment either.

      Despite being bankrupt and kept afloat by the generosity of German people we are going to give this person €250k salary plus unverified expenses plus a whopping pension – in addition to all the pensions they will be claiming on top of that. Why? Why isn’t €100k, and fully published receipts for expenses and a 50% pension (up to a maximum of €60k from all sources) and the honour of being president good enough for them?

      The election merely underscores the complete failure of the political class of the last 30 years if these are the best they produce – all of them are deeply flawed and we’re faced with a ‘the least worst’ choice.

    • RPE McCarthy says:

      I think it is remarkable that MDH is only 3 years older than David Norris. Norris looks, sounds and seems much more contemporary.

      Mitchell’s goose is cooked and as far as fair birds go, I think his talking turkey about social justice in political theory soundbites is jarring and bizarre. He does not seem to grasp the lexicon of Mondeo man much less that of breakfast roll man (if he still exists).

      The others have their merits but Norris is going to be the king maker and not the king. He hasn’t helped himself but some of the coverage has been feral. I would say the same about Martin McGuinness.

      I thought Vincent Brown was self-absorbed last night and some of the theatrics were crass. He was right to ask the questions it is just that Richard Crowley can be just as ruthless without every appearing tatty and tabloid. But then that is TV3 for you.

    • Kynos says:

      No you’re not. Sorry I mean. And I don’t mind so there’s no need to be sorry even if you were. Just gettin them off me chest is all. Whether you publish or not’s a secondary consideration (though must confess I like the dopamine buzz that comes when I see a blog’s been updated with new posts and think mine might be amongst them. Nobody does anything without some degree of self-interest. Those two are my reasons for writing here truth be told).

    • @5: That’s true: Norris is full of energy and vigour and far from the stereotyped version of a 67-year-old. Amazing that he was put on disability allowance by Trinity in 1995 after contracting Hepatitis.
      @6: You’re a one-trick pony – Shannon not the only major issue in the world.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @7 – Hep A,B,C, D or any other type is very difficult to manage day to day and its affect shouldn’t be underestimated. It is also classed as a chronic illness which will ultimately become terminal if left untreated and the treatment has a success rate of about 35% depending on your genotype and usually far less than that with the treatment taking well over a year and being very difficult to deal with, which is why so many people don’t ever go through the treatment and hope for the best. I don’t know if Norris still has Hep or if he was treated and it was successful. There is also massive stimga attached to it hence the digs at what type he had – the assumption being as he’s gay so it must be HepC as you can get a vacine for A&B and HepC can be sexually transmitted and before you know it he’ll be asked to have a HIV test because if a gay man is unwell it stands to reason it must because they are gay and have got the ‘plague’.

      Seems in 2011 one still doesn’t need to dig that far to unearth homophobia.

      Plus the disability was not a state benefit, it was paid for by an insurance company whose eligibility criteria would vastly exceed any test the state would apply. Getting that payment is no different to the other candidates who also have various incomes from salaries and pensions and quango income etc but I don’t see their income protrayed in the same way.

      Also, how did the media find out about a payment like that in the first place. How exactly can a journalist get access to the private medical records of someone?

    • Kynos says:

      Why would it be amazing he was put on disability by Trinity’s insurers? Hepatitis in any of its forms is a debilitating disease. It can be fatal (as we saw in the sufferings of the poor women whose lives were destroyed in the Hep C Scandal (another example of Irish indifference, cowardice and inhumanity towards the most vulnerable). Yes you can contract it from gay sexual activity, as the virus is found in bodily fluids and faecal matter. You can also get it from drinking infected water, eating infected vegetables, and other non-sexual activities. I had to get vaccinated for Types A and B when I went to work in China, for it’s everywhere there, you can pick it up off a handrail. You can get it from eating vegetables that have been grown using human nightsoil (everywhere in China you can see men on tricycles doing (imo) the worst job in the world. Their lot it is to visit the privies in the mornings and offload their contents into the two 45 gallon steel drums they have strapped to their trikes, and they take it to the vegetable farms and spread it on the fields).
      As a hepatitis sufferer, Mr Norris would have had a wide range of symptoms varying enormously in effect ranging from nausea through loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue, muscle and stomach aches and pains and cramps. It can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, cancer of the liver, liver failure and death. If you have Hepatitis C, getting Hep A or B can kill you even quicker. It’s a terrible disease. I’m not in the least surprised that having contracted it, Mr Norris was unable to work for quite some time and accordingly was adjudged (by a private insurer) to qualify for disability.

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      I think Mike D has a great chance

      classics such as ” Licence To Ill ” & ” Ill Communication ” will forever stand the test of time , and who better than to bust a few moves in the Aras than the great man himself

    • Marie Heavey says:

      What a circus! Hope whichever of the canidates wins he /she keeps very low profile.

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