Taking stock after the presidential election

 

Sir, – Your recent Editorial (October 29th) on the presidential campaign was deeply disparaging. You described the campaign as a shallow, vacuous one that sputtered to a predicable conclusion and that “the best that can be said of the presidential election is that it is now over”.

The fantastic aspect of our Constitution and democratic society is that any citizen can put themselves forward as a candidate subject to the qualifying requirements and that all registered citizens are allowed to vote. Indeed, over a year ago (September 27th, 2017) your paper stated that “a presidential election next year would be good for Irish democracy”.

A presidential election offers representation to our citizens. It gets the people involved. It gives them a sense of belonging and self-worth. With the freedom to vote, a person can feel he or she is significant and relevant to society.

Okay, some of the candidates in this particular election were not particularly strong or inspiring, but we should, nevertheless, be thankful for the wonderful election process we enjoy and should cherish in Ireland. – Yours, etc,

RICHARD COFFEY,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Imagine a very large and important organisation needing to fill one of its top positions.

And imagine it invites candidates to put themselves forward purely on the basis that they have found some people who endorse them. And imagine the organisation, then, not bothering to clarify what the role is, not listing the responsibilities of the position, and not describing the expected requirements of candidates for the position.

And imagine that, rather than challenging each of the candidates on how they measure up against these responsibilities and requirements, the organisation simply let them debate and fight it out among themselves and attack each other in front of an audience.

And then, imagine the very large and important organisation asks the audience what they think and asks them to decide who is the best choice for the top position! Can you imagine such an organisation functioning with any degree of excellence . . . or surviving? I can’t.

BRIAN SMYTH,

Co Meath.

Sir, – While it is most gratifying to see my first choice has been returned for another seven years, the belligerent post-election comments on Peter Casey have been a revelation for all the wrong reasons.

Much of what politicians say in the heat of an election battle is instantly dismissed as so much hot air, so what was different this time? Why all the fuss?

When Peter Casey gave his views on the vacant homes in Tipperary, all hell broke loose. From that moment on he was not so much interviewed as verbally attacked. It took a strong man to hold on to what he still believes to be fair comment.

Fintan O’Toole is right when he says: Casey didn’t create an audience – it found him.

The squeezed audience in question is not anti-Traveller, and now that that audience has found a leader who isn’t afraid to front up to the bullies in what sometimes seems like a consensus-driven media, they will likely remain loyal followers.

He may be lacking some basic skills in the art of diplomacy, but Casey the politician is no pushover. It might not be too long before Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin make tentative approaches for a “little chat”. – Yours, etc,

NIALL GINTY,

Killester, Dublin 5.

Sir, – With regard to Fintan O’Toole’s assessment of the people who voted for Peter Casey: It might be worth considering that they did so simply because they didn’t believe the statements : “I take home the average industrial wage” and “I took the Government jet for security reasons”. – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS O’CALLAGHAN,

Carlow.

Sir, – The people of Ireland should not worry about becoming a hotbed of far-right political thinking. We joined the far right when our governing establishment forced the ordinary taxpayer to bail out banks, bondholders and their wealthy friends, at home and abroad. Consequently, as the Celtic Tiger strides again, all minorities remain under the jackboot. – Yours, etc,

EUGENE TANNAM,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – It ought to be clear to all but the most delusional aspirants to high office that certain minimum requirements are now necessary for the office of Uachtarán na hÉireann.

Because the powers invested in the president are limited (though important), any credible contestant must possess such other credentials as the Irish electorate now appear to deem crucial for success in attaining the position.

These collectively are euphemistically referred to as an ability to exercise “soft power”. Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and Micheal D Higgins set a high bar for future aspirants for the presidency.

A long track record of distinguished public service in addition to an intellectual capacity to critically analyse, interpret and articulate on matters of national and global importance including climate change, famine, immigration, inequality, and social justice should be a sine qua non for any aspiring president.

Also, should not all contestants have fluency in our first language and a clear command of the constitutional powers and limitations of the office? In 2025 when the next “race for the Áras” is due, may we be spared the farce of so-called TV celebrities and one-trick ponies getting onto the ballot paper. A better way must be found to provide credible candidates.

This latest campaign was an embarrassment saved only by the result, which returned the only properly qualified candidate to the Áras. Thankfully the electorate could distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

Would that our nominating county councils could exercise similar discernment. – Yours, etc,

PJ MCDERMOTT,

Westport, Co Mayo.