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!