Edited transcript of interview with President Michael D Higgins


On October 27th 2011 Michael D Higgins was elected ninth President of Ireland and inaugurated on November 11th last. In his study this week he reflected on his first year in office.

Patsy McGarry: Q.

Q. Are you enjoying the job?

Q. Have you found the office restrictive?

Q. No attempt at restriction…?

Q. Do you enjoy the administrative side less?

Q. Does the protocol side irritate you?

Q. In the context of the Convention on the Constitution what changes would you like to see where this office is concerned?

Q. When the President refers a piece of legislation to the Supreme Court you’re saying the Supreme Court should only deal with the specific matter the President……..

Q. Do you think the powers of the office should be extended?

Q. Do you think the term should be shortened?

Q Coming from that background and where the next referendum, the Childrens’ Referendum, is concerned do you find it an inhibiting factor holding this office?

Q. Your theme for next year is the crisis in ethics and the crisis among intellectuals. What do you hope to do in that context in 2013?

Q. What about the political profession?

Q….in the bureaucracy?

Q. Next St Patrick’s Day is the 70th anniversary of a famous address by one of your predecessors Éamon de Valera who, as taoiseach, in his `comely maidens speech’ presented a particular vision of Ireland. The values he talked about there, are they the values you talk about now?

Q. The Irish people are reeling psychologically, ethically, and financially/economically. They have lost faith in their leadership, whatever the context – political, clerical, financial… What is the way out?

Q. A moving away from a Catholic nationalist basis for Irishness?

Q. The (presidential election) campaign, was it a gruelling experience from your point of view?

Q. It was an ugly campaign and this has become a feature of presidential election campaigns in recent times. Why?

Q. Next year President is a centenary which will probably quite close to your heart, that of the 1913 Lockout.

Q. You may have seen recently the challenge by Prof John A Murphy to those who would use history for political ends in the context of these centenaries?