The race for the presidency – a time for choosing


Sir, – It appears to me that if some people have their way we could expect to see the president of Ireland standing outside the Áras thumbing a lift to his engagement of the day and returning home to entertain some visiting foreign dignitaries with a meal of hamburgers brought in from McDonalds. – Yours, etc,



Co Monaghan.

Sir, – There has to be a more civilised and less contentious way for presidential nominees to let the public know what they might contribute to the highest post in Ireland. Certainly the quarrelling among many of the current nominees has been most unpleasant and unseemly, and reflects badly on Ireland and its people. I certainly know very clearly now those who will definitely not be getting my vote.

Fortunately, however, there was one member of the panel whose dignity was obvious and who did not try to undermine any of the other contestants, and it is to be hoped he wins by a huge majority.

Then let us reflect how we can avoid such an unedifying repeat performance in another seven years. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I’m no fan of President Michael D Higgins but give him his due, he has been a good president, apart from a few hiccups.

A constitutional change should be considered. Instead of having two possible terms of office, perhaps one eight or 10-year term would be more appropriate. In that case we would have a better calibre of candidates than the present ones. At least all political parties would be obliged to nominate their best candidates and in doing so give the voters a better choice. – Yours, etc,


Old Bawn,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – You have recently placed letters about the presidential election under the alternate heading of “The race for the Áras”.

In light of the opinion polls, may I suggest that you change the heading to “The one-horse race for the Áras”? – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s contribution on the wonders of the Irish presidency seems to completely misunderstand the nature of modern politics (“Irish presidents are the best in the world”, Opinion & Analysis, October 23rd). If we are so wonderful and distinctive at electing our presidents, can your columnist please explain why this does not carry over into the other, “efficient” (in Bagehot’s terminology) elements of our democracy.

Perhaps we are lucky in having a presidency that is purely “decorative” rather than being in the position of the Brazilian people who have to choose a president with power, and are obliged to choose between someone representing all elements of a political class who have mismanaged the country and robbed them blind for years or someone new, however unacceptably vile to me and you, who gives them some hope of breaking the existing system.

We know, in reality, that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael do not want to spend any money on a campaign for this politically meaningless office and support any incumbent, however wonderful his critique of their neoliberalism, just to avoid being seen to lose.

I think we can be given leave to doubt whether the election since 1990 of three academic communicators to a powerless office really justifies this panegyric to a new island of liberal saints and scholars. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – If the fight for the presidency was a boxing contest the referee would have stopped the fight in the first round in favour of Michael D Higgins. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

A chara, – Michael D Higgins has served the Irish people at home and abroad with dedication for many years. He has the skills, a well-established track record and the wisdom to continue to do so.

He will have my vote on Friday. – Is mise,



Co Galway.

Sir, – As the office of president is intended to be “above politics”, it is more than a little unseemly to witness the current incumbent having to get down into the mire of low-level politicking in pursuit of a second term. Surely it’s time for a Constitutional Convention to look at the merits of moving to a one-term presidency, perhaps of eight or 10 years’ duration? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.