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Presidential Election: Anyone but Miggeldy!!!

Presidential Election: Anyone but Miggeldy!!!

The Presidential Election in Ireland is coming closer. On 26 October all Irish citizens in Ireland will be asked to vote for a new President. There are six candidates (including the current president) and the term is a very long 7 years.

The candidates are Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy, Peter Casey, Joan Freeman, Liadh Ní Riada and the current president Michael D. Higgins (a.k.a Miggeldy Higins, after a primary school’s child answer to the question “Who is the President of Ireland?”).

None of the candidates is any better than another, considering that the Irish President has virtually NO political power. But none of them is unsuitable either. So who should you vote for?

In my opinion you can’t do ANYTHING wrong, no matter who you vote for, so if  – for whatever reason – you feel passionate about one of them, go ahead and vote for him or her. But if you are not sure and care about my opinion, then I would suggest to vote for anyone but Michael D. Higgins!

Why so? There are two reasons: 1) Age and 2) Arrogance

We have a minimum age for a President. For some reason it has been decided that anybody that is younger than 35 years of age is not eligible to be voted as a President. In the same way, it also would make sense to have an upper age limit. It can’t make sense that an over 80 year old is the President of a country unless we are super desperate and absolutely can’t find anyone else! Higgins will be 84 when the next term ends and there is no good reason for that. Aras an Uachterain should NOT be a retirement home!

And the point about arrogance? I know he took part in the debate on Virgin Media One on Thursday, but his refusal to take part in previous debates is an arrogance that no candidate should be allowed to get away with. And Sean Gallagher, who also refused because Higgins refused, doesn’t get any stars for this from me either.

Speaking about debates: The Virgin Media One debate was really interesting, because it showed that Michael D. Higgins is not at all an impressive candidate, actually he is surprisingly weak, considering that he was in that position already for 7 years. (So don’t expect anything impressive from him in the next 7 years!) But it also showed, that there is no outstanding other candidate.

And finally, what would I do…if you care? The one that I would probably vote for is Gavin Duffy! Seven years ago, it would have been Sean Gallagher, but this time around I am not convinced about him.

For me, the biggest surprise of the evening was that Pat Kenny did a really good job in probing the candidates!

Sean Gallagher stumbles!

Sean Gallagher stumbles!

I have declared that I would vote for Sean Gallagher as the new president …if I was allowed to vote. But in the last debate of all presidential candidates, Sean Gallagher stumbled the first time.

Because I wasn’t able to see the whole debate, I am not exactly sure how it all happened, but seemingly Martin McGuinness declared that someone rang him and told him that Sean Gallagher collected a cheque for Fianna Fail from the caller a few years ago.

Interesting in the context of Gallagher’s repeated attempts to distance himself from any FF involvement, but not scandalous in itself. If he collected a cheque for a party he was involved and did deliver the cheque to the party, I don’t see where the scandal is. Sure it doesn’t really tally with Gallagher’s preference to be seen as unattached to Fianna Fail, but that is still no disaster.

He was an active Fianna Fail member and it would have been better to accept and admit that and then to tell people that there is no danger from an ex-Fianna Fail member as president because the president has zero political power anyway. But for some reason people in Ireland are EXTREMELY sensitive to Fianna Fail membership.

Much less so than they are to Sinn Fein or even IRA membership!

I never thought much of Fianna Fail (always found it funny that they had “fail” in the name!) and I never liked Bertie Ahern even during the times when he was admired like a god by many. But on the other hand, I don’t think either that because one party has been involved in a lot of bad things and has contributed significantly to damaging the country, that then all members are automatically bad apples.

So I still have no problem with a former Fianna Fail member as a president of Ireland, but I wish Sean Gallagher had handled the conflict better. The worst sentence was probably when he declared that he had “no recollection of receiving a cheque”. This is the wording that was used by all the corrupt or dodgy former Fianna Fail figureheads. BAD choice!

I don’t think collecting a cheque on behalf of your party is a terrible thing, but I would imagine that Sean Gallagher’s support in the presidential race experienced a severe drop in that moment.

On a side note: Interesting that the politician with the darkest and dodgiest past, Martin McGuinness, was the one that threw the dirt at Gallagher!

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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