Sir, - I am struck by the near-obsession with President McAleese's clothing. Clearly this is a carry-over from the campaign, when the appearance of the candidates was almost as popular a topic of discussion as their views and suitability for the job. Indeed, much of what seems to constitute "presidential behaviour", at least when evaluating female candidates, rests in their ability to cut a fine figure wherever they go.
Imagine someone saying to Eamon de Valera at his own inauguration: "I say, Dev, that's a right smart suit you've got there. I simply must know the name of your designer." It sounds ridiculous, and yet it is precisely the standard by which we judge women in the political arena. Will women who achieve positions of power and influence ever be judged, as men are, solely on the basis of their abilities, successes and failures, rather than on their appearance and fashion sense? - Yours, etc.,
Maynooth, Co Kildare.