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Miriam Lord: Why I am running for President

Plus: ‘Make Ireland late again’ – Why I’m running for office of Uachtaráin na hÉireann

Politician of the season

Simon Harris won plaudits from all sides of the Yes campaign for his handling of the abortion referendum campaign. The Minister for Health showed a steely determination in debates and a cool mastery of plain facts as opposed to dubious assertions. He refused to be drawn into slagging matches or sidetracked by social media attacks.

In the biggest and most significant political story of the year, the electorate voted by an unexpectedly huge margin to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Harris’s surefooted and confident approach to the campaign contributed to it.

Unlikely sex symbol

The aforementioned Minister for Health, who didn’t quite know how to deal with the adulation he was getting from young female activists after the result came in. “I fancy Simon Harris” posters were in vogue for a while. But things are returning to normal now for Harris, who is back to defending his stewardship of the health system.

Senator of the season

Neale Richmond. The ambitious Fine Gael Senator has been batting strongly for Ireland in the international media for well over a year now.


It’s obvious that Richmond knows his subject, clearly but firmly outlining the European Union facts underpinning the Government’s position on Brexit, often in the face of overbearing bluster from patronising Westminster Brexiteers.

MEP Mairéad McGuinness, who is a vice-president of the European Parliament, has also been a very articulate and impressive performer, coming across as a voice of calm reason in the midst of Theresa May's Tory Brexit shambles.

Grace under pressure award

This goes to the quartet of parliamentarians who travelled to London earlier this week to mark the centenary of the election of Countess Markievicz to the House of Commons. She was the first woman elected to parliament but didn't take her seat.

On Wednesday, the Dáil's Vótáil 100 committee presented her portrait, donated by Dáil Éireann, to House of Commons speaker John Bercow. Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl performed the official handover.

When the group – including Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Ivana Bacik – arrived, they had to endure four speeches from four male speakers on the twin subjects of the countess and the significance of female suffrage. They were then brought to see the area where women used to be effectively caged off so as not to distract male members of parliament.

It was quietly suggested that Ivana should say something, but the visitors were told this wouldn’t be appropriate. Then, due to an issue beyond their control at the airport, they missed their return flight to Dublin.

Distinguished service medal

Michael Moran, who has served as a Government press officer for 16 years – a thankless task – is moving to pastures fresh. He finished up yesterday and, in the fullness of time, his phone should stop ringing at all hours of the day and night.

Michael is staying in the Taoiseach's department and will be overseeing the development of the new website. He will also continue to handle communications for the Emergency Planning Committee and will be part of the Government's media team for next month's papal visit.

He shouldn’t be let out award

Stand-out winner here is Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who can't help putting his foot in it when he travels abroad. Freed from the constraints of facing an often hostile public and in the presence of welcoming hosts, he says things he really shouldn't. His latest episode "out foreign" saw him criticising the Irish media for, among other things, being obsessed with trivia.

This from a Taoiseach who allows himself be photographed on the way to Cabinet meetings wearing a sports vest and has made the wearing of novelty socks a virtue.

Who said Mass? award

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture. She didn't really say Mass, in fact she merely stepped in with other churchgoers to facilitate a prayer service when the priest due to do the job didn't arrive. She is a volunteer lesson reader in her local Mount Merrion parish and stepped into the breach one Saturday evening rather than leave fellow congregation members without any spiritual sustenance.

The Indo jokingly referred to her "saying Mass" and Josepha was interviewed about the incident. At one point she said she would like to see women becoming priests as there is clearly a shortage of men to do the job and women would be well able to do it.

God for her. Sorry, good for her.

Rush of blood to head award

Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, who took grave offence to reports that Josepha had said Mass. Which she clearly had not. Dr Martin, a senior church diplomat for most of his clerical life, rushed out a very intemperate press statement criticising her actions and subsequent comments.

Not his finest hour. The impending visit from Pope Francis has him all of a tizzy.

Topless award

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

How to win friends and influence people award

Mary Lou McDonald showed her credentials when taking over from Gerry Adams as Sinn Fé

in leader as she sweetly carolled “Tiocfaidh ar lá” from the podium following her coronation as party president. She held aloft a clenched fist to underline her sincerity. The gesture went down a bomb with the delegates, but not so much with potential Sinn Féin voters who could be tempted by Mary Lou’s ability and non-threatening south county Dublin pedigree.

Photographic genius award (above)

This goes to Fianna Fáil's Waterford TD Mary Butler, who beat off serious competition from other groups of politicians indulging in group photographs to signal what side of the abortion debate they were on.

Although her party leader was supporting the repeal side, Mary managed to get 31 colleagues, mostly TDs, to pose together for a photograph on Merrion Square without the knowledge of the media or the party top brass.

The image was quickly leaked to our own Sarah Bardon.

It starkly showed the rift within the party on the issue and there was talk of a possible leadership challenge in the event of a defeat for the Yes side or a very close result.

In the end, certain Fianna Fáil politicians who may not have been as genuine and sincere as Mary and other colleagues in their opposition to repealing the Eighth, but were very sincere and genuine in their desire to be seen by their voter base as backing the right horse, suddenly went quiet when the final figures came in. And Micheál Martin, who correctly judged the mood of the people, was on much stronger ground as a result.


Make Ireland late again: Why I am running for the office of Uachtaráin na hÉireann

Following a period of extended reflection I can now confirm I am actively seeking a nomination to run for the office of Uachtaráin na hÉireann, thereby ending the intense speculation I have been stirring up in recent months.

I am not doing this for myself, but for The People.

I have been truly humbled by the many individuals I constantly imagine coming up to me in the street and crying: “Miriam, would you not consider running? You would make such a wonderful President for all of us ordinary folk and business leaders who are just crying out for strong leadership and a national figurehead such as your good self.”

I simply could not ignore the humbling groundswell of makey-up calls from all over the country begging me to put my name forward, particularly when I know I have so much to offer.

Before I became successfully large, I was a small and medium enterprise of many years standing.

My broad personal experience in this regard will bring added value to the role.

Having taken extensive soundings with myself, I believe Ireland urgently needs to have a national conversation about something.

To this end, I will make the Phoenix Park a beacon for national intercourse.

I am a woman. You do not know me off the telly. I am not a member of a political party. I own a gender neutral dog (Sparky). I have dodgy knees, reasonable table manners and a wardrobe full of tweed.

While I possess many wonderful qualities, there is just one mandatory requirement for this important job: All candidates must have a great welcome for themselves. I am happy to say that I possess this in buckets.

As a human person who has always had a deep interest in human rights stuff, I want to go down in history as “The Lie-in President”, although I know there is strong competition from the White House for a similar sounding title. My campaign slogan is “Make Ireland Late Again”. Since when did we become a nation of early risers and morning birds? It’s not right and has to change.

If elected, I will serve for three and a half years and then hand over for the rest of the seven year term to Kevin “Boxer” Moran.

At this point, I must thank my “stalking horses” Miriam O’Callaghan and Noel Whelan. I have the best stalking horses.

I have appointed Michael Lowry as my campaign manager and fundraiser, with special responsibility for my offshore supporters.

Here are some key points from my manifesto:

As president I will:

– Continue to push the boundaries of the Presidency, annexing the Polo Grounds and the US ambassador’s residence. The Yanks won’t even notice because they haven’t bothered assigning an ambassador since Trump took over.

– Appoint a vice-president. Most likely Daniel O’Donnell. He will live with Majella in what was formerly the US ambassador’s residence and they will stay in B&Bs while outside Dublin.

– Run my presidency on Marxist principles and place a bronze bust of Groucho in the entrance hall.

– Close all summer schools.

– Open Aosdána membership to all, apart from anyone who knows what Aosdána is.

– Abolish the Lower House and keep the Seanad, which is a rich breeding ground for presidential material.

– Outlaw golf.

– Put up mosquito alarms at spots where senators gather. They will quickly disperse. These alarms emit an unbearable buzzing sound which can only be heard by members of the Upper House and people who have a great welcome for themselves.

– Commission a commemorative gnome for every home in the country. There will be a selection of models: The Winston Churchtown, The Mary Robinson, The Marty Morrissey, The Mary Lou and The Michael D.

– Appoint all my friends to the Council of State.

– Dispatch John Halligan to chair historic peace talks between East and West Korea.

– Make Eurovision great again.

– Limit my speeches to a maximum of ten minutes.

– Install jelly fish nets at popular beaches.

– Round up the wallabies on Lambay Island and distribute them around Killarney where they might eat the rowdy-dun-duns because they are no use at all at all to that crowd above in Dublin.

– Hold loads of parties.

Vote for me because? Because I’m worth it.

Vote for me because: Because have you seen the rest of them?

I am now suspending this column for reasons of balance and electoral fairness and to begin a period of further reflection and looking into my heart.

Converse among yourselves, I’m off to the Áras to measure up.