There is one thing that tends to make my blood boil when it comes to politics and that is a good stitch up. It is so prevalent here that it often restricts talent from breaking through the ranks and in many cases discourages people from participating in the first place. It is, therefore, all the more distasteful to see it on display with the pantomime surrounding the office of the Presidency. Let me start with Michael D. Higgins himself. He said categorically that he would only seek one term. Very sensible in the circumstances, as he is now 77 years of age. Now he is considered a racing certainty to run again. Not very sensible as he will be 84 years of age at the end of his term. Of equal importance is the fact that he would be breaking his pact with the Irish people that he would be a one term President. Then all that comfortable living, first class travel and a chance to think of yourself as a global intellectual can be very seductive. Michael D. may have become, as Kevin Sharkey another Presidential hopeful suggested, a little “pompous” over the years. He has certainly started to exude a sense of entitlement.
This, of course, brings me straight on to the stitch up. Michael D. has deliberately delayed announcing his candidature by nominating himself, which he is entitled to, so he can wrong foot anybody who might consider a run for the Park. Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell is to be commended for his one man campaign to challenge Michael D. Surely it is in the interests of this Republic to have a vigorous contest for the highest office in the land ? Damn it, I am quite tempted myself to throw my hat in the ring just to liven things up a bit. Now isn’t it pathetic that neither of our two main political parties are prepared to put up a candidate. Fianna Fail have been first out of the blocks to endorse Michael D. You can expect Fine Gael to follow suit. Don’t think this is about high minded principles because it is not. It is just simply about money. They both want to preserve their fiscal armoury to fight the forthcoming general election so they collectively express confidence in Michael D and both fail to supply a candidate. It is then left to Sinn Fein to provide a candidate and if they provide somebody credible it might just help them widen their electoral base for the next general election, and further enhance Mary Lou’s reputation.
So a 77 year old one term President waltzes back into the Park as Head of State for the next 7 years without a serious electoral contest. What does that say about our vibrant progressive republic ?