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Seanad or no Seanad?

Seanad or no Seanad?

Before they got elected Fine Gael promised that they would abolish the Seanad. At the time most people saw this Upper House of the Parliament as an undemocratic, costly and unnecessary institution that should be removed rather sooner than later. At the time Fine Gael was very popular as they had just won the election. Since then a lot has happened.
Fine Gael is not at all that popular anymore and has less support than Fine Fail, the party that was blamed for the Irish recession and a party that many declared as a “dead man walking”. This turn around happened in such a short time that Fine Gael should be seriously worried.

A consequence of that public change of mind is that people now don’t trust Fine Gael anymore and suddenly think a parliamentary control instance might still be a good idea. They ignore that the elections to the Seanad are COMPLETELY undemocratic as the system of electing Seanad members is a very odd mechanism that was dreamt up by the founders of the Irish democracy who clearly had a somewhat twisted view (from today’s perspective) of democracy. A huge proportion of people in Ireland have absolutely no voting rights.

So Fine Gael has screwed up and now the opinion about the Seanad changes and more people ask for a change or improvement of the Seanad instead of an abolition.

In my opinion the Seanad COULD be a very helpful instance, but only if a way was found that gives EVERY Irish citizen a voting right AND only if the election to the Seanad is completely different than the election to the Dail. One way could be a nationwide list system that is put together by each party completely constituency independent. It would have to rule out Independent candidates (unless they organise themselves in a list of Independents) and the Universities would have to lose their candidates. Another aspect would have to be that the Taoiseach must not have the right to put his friends on the Seanad by-passing the elections.

Significant changes, but they would make the Seanad to what it should be. Without that? Get rid of this unnecessary forum.

Some people have different agendas though and they are always shouting very loud. David Norris is one of them. He will disappear in a deserved political insignificance if the Seanad is abolished and he is fighting for his “importance”. He is attacking “Enda bloody Kenny” (Norris, sophisticated and polite as always!) for trying to abolish the Seanad and calls anyone who supports the plans to scrap the Seanad a “liar, thief and traitor to the Irish people”.

David Norris is a rude bully and people like him make me hope that the Seanad will be gone soon.

The Presidential Candidates

The Presidential Candidates

Not being a citizen of Ireland means that I am not allowed to vote in the Presidential election next week, so instead of putting my opinion on a ballot paper, the only way I can share my opinion is here in this forum. ;-)

I listened to lots of discussions and interviews with the candidates over the last few weeks and I find most discussions odd. Because of the role of the Irish President (see my previous post here) the majority of questions is totally irrelevant.

If we assume that the new president has absolutely NO political influence, then what else differentiates the candidates and who is electable and who isn’t.

Here is my personal opinion (in alphabetical order by last name):

Mary Davis
Was it just herself who thought she is suitable? Her claim to fame is that she was the CEO of a charity that organised a successful event (the Special Olympics). She was handsomely paid for that job and it seems that she did what was expected from her. Her reward was that she was put on lots of other boards and in public roles and was paid for all of them as well. I had never heard about Mary Davis before she seemingly nominated herself (not sure if that was the case, but in essence it was not much different). I have zero positive or negative emotions when I think of Mary Davis and for me that is enough of a sign. I can’t see any reason why she should become president.

Sean Gallagher
I like Sean Gallagher, he is straight talking, he has different ideas (no posters, send all election pamphlets in one envelope, etc) and he has been very approachable in the past at events where I met him. I liked him as a” Dragon” on Dragon’s Den and I think that’s where he was good. I did and still don’t understand why he thought becoming the Irish President is a good idea. I would not really want him as president, because I think he is a lot more useful in a business role, maybe even in a political role than as a president.
However, if someone had to represent me, I wouldn’t feel too upset if it was Sean Gallagher. BTW: His political affiliation in the past is in my opinion not a big problem. Fianna Fail members are not outcasts, the party was lead by morally corrupt and self-centered people, but that doesn’t make everyone in the party a bad apple.

Michael D Higgins
An old little man that could easily be your granddad or the little hobbit from the little house down the road, but as a president I can NOT imagine him. In my opinion he also is definitely too old for the role. In 7 years at the end of his time, he will be 77 and considering that he already appears more like 90 than like 70, it is just too late for him. It probably doesn’t help that I encountered him about 2 years ago in rather relaxed atmosphere where he came across more deranged than statesman-like.

Martin McGuinness
For me it is much too early for an IRA member who killed or condoned the killing of many civilians to become the president of Ireland. I am not saying that IRA members will always have to be excluded, but Martin McGuinness had his arms to deep in the muck. I would really feel uneasy if he was the one representing me. He has done a huge conversion from his past to the now, but I don’t think it will ever be enough. I wouldn’t want Ian Paisley either as a president. They were all too entrenched in all the hatred.

Gay Mitchell
Who?? Gay Mitchell has left Ireland a long long time ago (to take up EU roles for years) and I don’t think he is enough part of Ireland to have the right to represent Ireland. Apart from that, he doesn’t even have the support from all his party. He was a compromise candidate. He represents boring establishments, something that Higgins and McGuinness interestingly don’t represent despite their party nominations. An absolute NO as a president.

David Norris
David Norris? A born entertainer, an actor, a laugh when he is performing. …but as soon as it gets serious the wheels AND the gloves come off. Underneath the lacquer there is a totally ego-centric bully who tries to shout down people and who has some rather twisted opinions in some areas. I would happily see him in a play, but I don’t trust him with serious stuff. When he withdrew from the competition I thought he did the right thing, but why did he come back? What had changed? He withdrew because he thought he was not a suitable candidate. Why suddenly was he suitable again a few days later? Not a representative for anybody else but for himself.

Dana Scanlon
Does she even deserve to be considered as a serious candidate? She tried it before and failed dismally and she will do the same again. I can’t see a single political opinion that I share with her. I can live with that! But I can’t even understand her moral positions.

Shockingly there is not a lot of positives in these assessments. There is definitely no outstanding candidate, but just a whole bunch of mediocrity. So, who would I vote for? Taking out the people I could not vote for doesn’t leave much. In the end it comes down to personality and to the person that in my opinion has the highest level of integrity and that is Sean Gallagher.
No, he is not my dream candidate, but he is a good compromise that could definitely grow into a statesman role. Pity that he is then gone from the business/economic end, but we will survive.

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