“My decision will be my decision”, so says Michael D. Higgins on whether or not he will run again for the Presidency. Sounds just a touch petulant considering he said he would only run for one term. To be honest, its about time he let us know if he is going to do a volte face and seek a second term. This would give other potential candidates an opportunity to crank up their campaigns. Then, of course, delaying an announcement could scupper rivals plans, and that looks increasingly like what is afoot. However, this may back-fire on our betweeded President as it gives the general public longer to focus on why he is going back on his word and whether seventy seven is too old to seek a further seven years in the Park. Of course, all of this is before an examination of the President’s expenses which I suspect may become an issue during the campaign.
As far as Fine Gael is concerned, they would be more than happy to see Michael D. stay in place. In fact, they sound like a chorus. Minister Murphy thinks “ He is doing a fantastic job” and for good measure Minister Bruton thinks “ He is doing a fantastic job”, Minister Harris rows in with an “excellent job” and not to be outdone the Tanaiste declares he “ has done a very good job”. Sounds to me that the last thing the Blue Shirts want this year is a Presidential Election. First of all the expense is not welcome when they could be confronted by a general election and secondly who would they run as a candidate. Enda Kenny might be enjoying his freedom too much to run this time for the Park. Knowing the likely strategic thinking of the Taoiseach, they would love for Michael D. to amble back into the Aras without an election – failing that a field of opponents where they can credibly support a Labour candidate. It will be interesting to see this game play out.
Like many people I watch the unfolding situation over Brexit with increasing trepidation. I am so tired of hearing that it is like driving a square peg into a round hole. The language is starting to sound increasingly acrimonious. It may sound Eurosceptic to say it, but I wish our government would start thinking bilaterally about our future relationship with the UK rather than as a frontier of the EU. I may be wrong on this but I think that the UK will leave the Customs Union despite the efforts of the Remainders to thwart this. In these circumstance it is beholden on our government to find arrangements with the UK to minimise the disruption caused by what becomes an economic border. This will mean special arrangements for small companies – special transit licences – whatever is required. The two sides need to talk directly to each other. It is Europe that has to recognise that the relationship between our two island nations is special. We must find a solution.